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Full text of "Sermons to the natural man"

SERMONS 



TO THE 



NATURAL MAN. 



WILLIAM G. T. SHEDD, D. D., 

ATJTHOE OP "A HISTOKT OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE," " IIOMILETICS AND PASTOEAL 
THEOLOGY," "DISCOUESES AND ESSAYS," " PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY," ETC. 



NEW YORK: 
SCRIBNER, ARMSTRONG & CO., 

654 BROADWAY. 

1873. 



Entered according to Ac> c f Congress, in the year 1S7L, 
By CHARLES SCRIBNER & CO., 
i the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington, D. C. 



a change 
10 6 



JUN 16 1942 

Afce*issic«s Division 
jtVf C KY ol GC.*.C8 SS 



PEEFAOE. 



It is with a solemn feeling of responsibility that I send 
forth this volume of Sermons. The ordinary emotions of 
authorship have little place in the experience, when one 
remembers that what he says will be either a means of 
spiritual life, or an occasion of spiritual der.th. 
f I believe that the substance of these Discourses will prove 
'i ; to accord with God's revealed truth, in the day that will 
^ try all truth. The title indicates their general aim and 
q tendency. The purpose is psychological. I would, if pos- 

sible, anatomize the natural heart. It is in vain to offer 7 
^ the gospel unless the law has been applied with clearness ' 
and cogency. At the present day, certainly, there is far 
less danger of erring in the direction of religious severity, 
than in the direction of religious indulgence. If I have 
not preached redemption in these- sermons so fully as I 
have analyzed sin, it is because it is my deliberate convic- 
tion that just now the first and hardest work to be done 
by the preacher, for the natural man, is to produce in him 
some sensibility upon the subject of sin. Conscience v 
needs to become consciousness. There is considerable 
theoretical unbelief respecting the doctrines of the Xew 
Testament ; but this is not the principal difficulty. The- 
oretical skepticism is in a small minority of Christendom, 
and always has been. The chief obstacle to the spread, of 
the Christian religion is the practical unbelief of specula- 



iv 



PREFACE. 



tive believers. "Thou sayest," — says John Bunyan, — 
" thou dost in deed and in truth believe the Scriptures. I 
ask, therefore, Wast thou ever killed stark dead by the 
law of works contained in the Scriptures? Killed by the 
law or letter, and made to see thy sins against it, and left 
in an helpless condition by the law ? For, the proper 
work of the law is to slay the soul, and to leave it dead in 
an helpless state. For, it doth neither give the soul any 
comfort itself, when it comes, nor doth it show the soul 
where comfort is to be had ; and therefore it is called the 
4 ministration of condemnation,' the ' ministration of death.' 
For, though men may have a notion of the blessed Word 
of God, yet before they be converted, it may be truly said 
of them, Ye err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the 
power of God." 

If it be thought that such preaching of the law can be 
dispensed with, by employing solely what is called in 
some quarters the preaching of the gospel, I do not agree 
with the opinion. The benefits of Christ's redemption 
are pearls which must not be cast before swine. The gos- 
pel is not for the stupid, or for the doubter, — still less for 
the scoifer. Christ's atonement is to be offered to con- 
scious guilt, and in order to conscious guilt there must be 
the application of the decalogue. John Baptist must pre- 
pare the way for the merciful Redeemer, by legal and 
close preaching. And the merciful Redeemer Himself, 
in the opening of His ministry, and before He spake much 
concerning remission of sins, preached a sermon which in 
its searching and self-revelatory character is a more alarm- 
ing address to the corrupt natural heart, than was the first 
edition of it delivered amidst the lightnings of Sinai. 
The Sermon on the Mount is called the Sermon of the Be- 
atitudes, and many have the impression that it is a very 
lovely song to the sinful soul of man. They forget that 
' the blessing upon obedience implies a curse upon disobedi- 
ence, and that every mortal man has disobeyed the Ser 



PREFACE. 



V 



mon on the Mount. " God save me," — said a thoughtful 
person who knew what is in the Sermon on the Mount, 
and what is in the human heart, — " God save me from 
the Sermon on the Mount when I am judged in the last 
day." When Christ preached this discourse, He preached 
the law, principally. " Think not," — He says, — " that I 
am come to destroy the law or the prophets. I am not 
come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, 
Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in 
no w r ise pass from the law till all be fulfilled." John the 
Baptist describes his own preaching, which was confess- 
edly severe and legal, as being far less searching than that 
of the Messiah whose near advent he announced. " I in- 
deed baptize you with water unto repentance : but he 
that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I 
am not worthy to bear : he shall baptize you with the 
Holy Ghost and with Jire : whose/cm is in his hand, and 
he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat 
into the garner; but he will bum up the chaff with un- 
quenchable fire." 

The general burden and strain of the Discourse with 
which the Redeemer opened His ministry is preceptive 
and mandatory. Its key-note is : " Thou shalt do this," 
and, " Thou shalt not do that ; " " Thou shalt be thus, in 
thine heart," and, " Thou shalt not be thus, in thine heart." 
So little is said in it, comparatively, concerning what are 
called the doctrines of grace, that it has often been cited 
to prove that the creed of the Church has been expanded 
unduly, and made to contain more than the Founder o. 
Christianity really intended it should. The absence, for 
example, of any direct and specific statement of the clOc 
trine of Atonement, in this important section of Christ's 
teaching, has been instanced by the Socinian opponent as 
proof that this doctrine is not so vital as the Church has 
always claimed it to be. But, Christ was purposely silent 
respecting grace and its methods, until he had spiritual- 



VI 



PREFACE. 



ised law, and made it penetrate the human consciousness 
like a sharp sword. Of what use would it have been to 
offer mercy, before the sense of its need had been elicited ? 
and how was this to be elicited, but by the solemn and 
authoritative enunciation of law and justice ? There are, 
indeed, cheering intimations, in the Sermon on the Mount, 
respecting the Divine mercy, and so there are in connec- 
tion with the giving of the Ten Commandments. But 
law, rather than grace, is the main substance and burden 
of both. The great intention, in each instance, is to con- 
vince of sin, preparatory to the offer of clemency. The 
Decalogue is the legal basis of the Old Dispensation, and 
the Sermon on the Mount is the legal basis of the New. 
When the Redeemer, in the opening of His ministry, had 
provided the apparatus of conviction, then He provided 
the apparatus of expiation. The Great High-Priest, like 
the Levitical priest who typified Him, did not sprinkle 
atoning blood indiscriminately. It was to bedew only 
him who felt and confessed guilt. 

This legal and minatory element in the words of Jesus 
has also been noticed by the skeptic, and an argument has 
been founded upon it to prove that He was soured by ill- 
success, and, like other merely human reformers who have 
found the human heart too hard for them, fell away from 
the gentleness with which He began His ministry, into 
the anger and denunciation of mortified ambition with 
which it closed. This is the picture of Jesus Christ which 
Renan presents in his apocryphal Gospel. But the fact 
is, that the Redeemer began with law, and was rigorous 
«ith sin from the very first. The Sermon on the Mount 
was delivered not far from twelve months from the time 
of His inauguration, by baptism, to the office of Messiah. 
And all along through His ministry of three years and a 
half, He constantly employs the law in order to prepare 
l-iis hearers for grace. He was as gentle and gracious to 
the penitent sinner, in the opening of His ministry, as he 



PEEFACE. 



vii 



was at the close of it; and He was as unsparing and se- 
vere towards the hardened and self-righteous sinner, in 
His early Judsean, as He was in His later Galilean 
ministry. 

It is sometimes said that the surest way to produce con- 
viction of sin is to preach the Cross. There is a sense in 
which this is true, and there is a sense in which it is false. 
If the Cross is set forth as the cursed tree on which the 
Lord of Glory hung and suffered, to satisfy the demands 
of Eternal Justice, then indeed there is fitness in the 
preaching to produce the sense of guilt. But this is to 
preach the law, in its fullest extent, and the most tremen- 
, dous energy of its claims. Such discourse as this must 
necessarily analyze law, define it, enforce it, and apply it 
in the most cogent manner, for, only as the atonement 
of Christ is shown to completely meet and satisfy all these 
legal demands which have been so thoroughly discussed 
and exhibited, is the real virtue and power of the Cross 
made manifest. 

But if the Cross is merely held up as a decorative orna- 
ment, like that on the breast of Belinda, " which Jews 
might kiss and infidels adore;" if it be proclaimed as the 
beautiful symbol of the Divine indifference and indul- 
gence, and there be a studious avoiding of all judicial as- 
pects and relations; if the natural man is not searched by 
law and alarmed by justice, but is only soothed and nar- 
cotized by the idea of an Epicurean deity destitute of 
moral anger and inflicting no righteous retribution, — then, 
there will be no conviction of sin. Whenever the preach- 
ing of the law is positively objected to, and the preaching: 
of the gospel is proposed in its place, it will be found 
that the "gospel" means that good-nature and that easy 
virtue which some mortals dare to attribute to the Holy 
and Immaculate Godhead ! He who really, and in good 
faith, preaches the Cross, never opposes the preaching .of 
the law. 



Vlll 



PEEFACE. 



Still another reason for the kind of religious discourse 
which we are defending is found in the fact that multi- 
tudes are expecting a happy issue of this life, upon ethical 
as distinguished from evangelical grounds. They deny 
that they deserve damnation, or that they need Christ's 
atonement. They say that they are living virtuous lives, 
and are ready to adopt language similar to that of Mr. 
Mill spoken in another connection : "If from this position 
of integrity and morality we are to be sent to hell, to hell 
we will go." This tendency is strengthened by the cur- 
rent light letters, in distinction from standard literature. 
A certain class, through ephemeral essays, poems, and 
novels, has been plied with the doctrine of a natural vir- 
tue and an innate goodness, until it has become proud and 
self-reliant. The " manhood " of paganism is glorified, and 
the " childhood " of the gospel is vilified. The graces of 
humility, self-abasement before God, and especially of 
penitence for sin, are distasteful and loathed. Persons of 
this order prefer to have their religious teacher silent upon 
these themes, and urge them to courage, honor, magna- 
nimity, and all that class of qualities which imply self- 
consciousness and self-reliance. To them apply the sol- 
emn words of the Son of God to the Pharisees : "If ye 
were blind, ye should have no sin : but now ye say, We 
see, therefore your sin remaineth." 

It is, therefore, specially incumbent upon the Christian 
ministry, to employ a searching and psychological style of 
| preaching, and to apply the tests of ethics and virtue so 
powerfully to men who are trusting to ethics and virtue, 
as to bring them upon their knees. Since these men are 
desiring, like the " foolish Galatians," to be saved by the 
law, then let the law be laid down to them, in all its 
breadth and reach, that they may understand the real na- 
ture and consequences of the position they have taken. 
"Tell me," — says a preacher of this stamp, — "tell me, 
ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the 



PREFACE. 



ix 



law," — do ye not hear its thundering, — " cursed is every 
one that continueth not in ALL things that are written 
in the law, to do them ! " Virtue must be absolutely per- 
fect and spotless, if a happy immortality is to be made to 
depend upon virtue. If the human heart, in its self-de- 
ception and self-reliance, turns away from the Cross and 
the righteousness of God, to morals and the righteousness 
of works, then let the Christian thinker follow after it like 
the avenger of blood. Let him set the heights and depths 
of ethical perfection before the deluded mortal; let him 
point to the inaccessible cliffs that tower high above, and 
bid him scale them if he can ; let him point to the fathom- 
less abysses beneath, and tell him to descend and bring up 
perfect virtue therefrom ; let him employ the very instru- 
ment which this virtuoso has chosen, until it becomes an 
instrument of torture and self-despair. In this way, he is 
breaking down the " manhood " that confronts and op- 
poses, and is bringing in the " childhood " that is docile, 
and recipient of the kingdom. 

These Sermons run the hazard of being pronounced 
monotonous, because of the pertinacity with which the 
attempt is made to force self-reflection. But this criti- 
cism can easily be endured, provided the attempt succeeds. 
Religious truth becomes almighty the instant it can get 
within the soul ; and it gets within the soul, the instant 
real thinking begins. " As you value your peace of mind, 
stop all scrutiny into your personal character," is the ad- 
vice of what Milton denominates "the sty of Epicurus." 
The discouraging religious condition of the present age is 
due to the great lack, not merely in the lower but the 
higher classes, of calm, clear self-intelligence. Men do 
not know themselves. The Delphic oracle was never less 
obeyed than now, in this vortex of mechanical arts and 
luxury. For this reason, it is desirable that the religious 
teacher dwell consecutively upon topics that are connected 
with that which is within man, — his settled motives of 



X 



PREFACE. 



action, and all those spontaneous on-goings of his soul of 
which he takes no notice, unless he is persuaded or im- 
pelled to do so. Some of the old painters produced pow- 
erful effects by one solitary color. The subject of moral 
evil contemplated in the heart of the individual man, — 
not described to him from the outside, but wrought out 
of his own being into incandescent letters, by the fierce 
chemistry of anxious perhaps agonizing reflection, — sin, 
the one awful fact in the history of man, if caused to per- 
vade discourse will always impart to it a hue which, 
though it be monochromatic, arrests and holds the eye 
like the lurid color of an approaching storm-cloud. 

With this statement respecting the aim and purport of 
these Sermons, and deeply conscious of their imperfections, 
especially for spiritual purposes, I send them out into the 
world, with the prayer that God the Spirit will deign to 
employ them as the means of awakening some souls from 
the lethargy of sin. 

Union Theological Seminary, 

New York, February 17, 1811. 



CONTENTS. 



PAGB 



I. The future state a self-conscious state 1 

II. The future state a self-conscious state (continued) 23 

III. God's exhaustive knowledge of man 4.0 

IV. God's exhaustive knowledge of man (continued) 59 

V. All mankind guilty; or, every man knows more than 

HE PRACTISES IS 

VL Sin in the heart the source of error in the head 101 

VII. The necessity of Divine influences 123 

VIII. The necessity of Divine influences (continued) 141 

IX. The impotence of the law 161 

X. Self-scrutiny in God's presence 181 

XI. Sin is spiritual slavery 202 

XII. The original and the actual relation of man to law.. 231 

XIII. The sin of omission 249 

XIV. The sinfulness of original sin 267 

XV. The approbation of goodness is not the love of it 285 

XVI. The use of fear in religion 308 

XVII. The present life as related to the future 335 

XVIII. The exercise of mercy optional with God 358 

XIX. Christianity requires the temper of childhood 3*79 

XX. Faith the sole saving act 401 



SERMONS 



THE FUTURE STATE A SELF-CONSCIOUS STATE. 



1 Cor. Sriii. 12. — "Now I know in part: but then shall I know even as 
also I am known." 



The apostle Paul made this remark with refei 
ence to the blessedness of the Christian in eternity. 
Such assertions are frequent in the Scriptures. This 
same apostle, whose soul was so constantly dilated 
with the expectation of the beatific vision, assures 
the Corinthians, iu another passage in this epistle, 
that " eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have 
entered into the heart of man the things which God 
hath prepared for them that love Him." The be- 
loved disciple John, also, though he seems to have 
lived in the spiritual world while he was upon the 
earth, and though the glories of eternity were made 
to pass before him in the visions of Patmos, is com- 
pelled to say of the sons of God, " It doth not yet 
appear what we shall be." And certainly the com- 



2 



THE FUTURE STATE 



inon Christian, as he looks forward with a mixture 
of hope and anxiety to his final state in eternity, 
will confess that he knows "but " in part," and that 
a very small part, concerning it. He endures as 
seeing that which is invisible, and cherishes the hope 
that through Christ's redemption his eternity will 
be a condition of peace and purity, and that he shall 
know even as also he is known. 

But it is not the Christian alone who is to enter 
eternity, and to whom the exchange of worlds will 
bring a luminous apprehension of many things that 
have hitherto been seen only through a glass dark- 
ly. Every human creature may say, when he thinks 
of the alteration that will come over his views of re- 
ligious subjects upon entering another life, "Now 
I know in part; but then shall I know even as also 
I am known. I am now in the midst of the vapors 
and smoke of this dim spot which men call earth, 
but then shall I stand in the dazzling light of the 
face of God, and labor under no doubt or delusion 
respecting my own character or that of my Eternal 
Judge. 1 ' ^ 

A moment's reflection will convince any one, that 
the article and fact of death must of itself make a 
vast accession to the amount of a man's knowledge,, 
because death introduces him into an entirely new 
state of existence. Foreign travel adds much to our 
stock of ideas, because we go into regions of the 
earth of which we had previously known only by 
the hearing of the ear. But the great and last jour- 



A SELF-CONSCIOUS STATE. 



3 



ney that man takes carries hirn over into a province ' 
of which no book, not even the Bible itself, gives 
him any distinct cognition, as to the style of its 
scenery or the texture of its objects. In respect to 
any earthly scene or experience, all men stand upon 
substantially the same level of information, because 
they all have substantially the same data for form- 
ing an estimate. Though I may never have been 
in Italy, I yet know that the soil of Italy is a })art 
of the common crust of the globe, that the Apen- 
nines are like other mountains which I have seen, 
that the Italian sunlight pours through the pupil 
like any other sunlight, and that the Italian breezes 
fan the brow like those of the sunny south the 
world over. I understand that the general forms 
of human consciousness in Europe and Asia, are 
like those in America, The operations of the five 
senses are the same in the Old World that they 
are in the New. But what do I know of the sur- 
roundings and experience of a man who has trav- 
elled from time into eternity \ Am I not complete- 
ly baffled, the moment I attempt to construct the 
consciousness of the unearthly state ? I have no 
materials out of which to build it, because it is not 
a world of sense and matter, like that which I now 
inhabit. 

But death carries man over into the new and en- 
tirely different mode of existence, so that he knows 
by direct observation and immediate intuition. A 
flood of new information pours in upon the disem- 



A 



THE FUTUKE STATE 



bodied spirit, such as he cannot by any possibility 
acquire upon earth, and yet such as he cannot by 
any possibility escape from in his new residence. 
How strange it is, that the young child, the infant 
of days, in the heart of Africa, by merely dying, by 
merely passing from time into eternity, acquires a 
kind and grade of knowledge that is absolutely in- 
accessible to the wisest and subtlest philosopher 
while here on earth ! 1 The dead Hottentot knows 
more than the living Plato. 

But not only does the exchange of worlds make 
a vast addition to our stores of information respect- 
ing the nature of the invisible realm, and the mode 
of existence there, it also makes a vast addition to 
the kind and degree of our knowledge respecting 
ourselves, and our personal relationships to God. 
This is by far the most important part of the new 
acquisition which we gain by the passage from time 
to eternity, and it is to this that the Apostle directs 
attention in the text. It is not so much the world 
| that will be around us, when we are beyond the 
tomb, as it is the world that will be within us, that 
is of chief importance. Our circumstances in this 
mode of existence, and in any mode of existence, are 
arranged by a Power above us, and are, compara- 
tively, matters of small concern ; but the persons 

1 " She has seen the mystery hid, 
Under Egypt's pyramid ; 
By those eyelids pale and close, 
Now she knows what Rhamses knows." 

Elizabeth Browning: On the Death of a Child. 



A SELF-CONSCIOUS STATE. 







that we ourselves verily are, the characters which 
we bring into this environment, the little inner 

O - „ ' 

world of thought and feeling which is to be in- 
closed and overarched in the great outer world of 
forms and objects, — all this is matter of infinite mo- 
ment and anxiety to a responsible creature. 

For the text teaches, that inasmuch as the future 
life is the ultimate state of being for an immortal 
spirit, all that imperfection and deficiency in knowl- 
edge which appertains to this present life, this " ig- 
norant present 1 ' time, must disappear. When we 
are in eternity, we shall not be in the dark and in 
doubt respecting certain great questions and truths 
that sometimes raise a query in our minds here. 
Voltaire now knows whether there is a sin-hating 
God, and David Hume now knows whether there 
is an endless hell. I may, in certain moods of my 
mind here upon earth, query whether I am ac- 
countable and liable to retribution, but the instant 
I shall pass from this realm of shadows, all this 
skepticism will be banished forever from my mind. 
For the future state is the final state, and hence all 
questions are settled, and all doubts are resolved. 
While upon earth, the arrangements are such that 
we cannot see every thing, and must walk by faith, 
because it is a state of probation ; but when once 
in eternity, all the arrangements are such that we 
cannot but see every thing, and must walk by sight, 
because it is the state of adjudication. Hence it is, 
that the preacher is continually urging men to view 



6 



THE FUTUKE STATE 



things, so far as is possible, in the light of eternity, 
as the only light that shines clearly and without 
refractions. Hence it is, that he importunes his 
hearers to estimate their duties, and their relation- 
ships, and their personal character, as they will 
upon the death-bed, because in the solemn hour of 
| death the light of the future state begins to dawn 
upon the human soul. 

It is very plain that if a spiritual man like the 
apostle Paul, who in a very remarkable degree lived 
with reference to the future world, and contemplat- 
ed subjects in the light of eternity, was compelled 
to say that he knew but u in part," much more must 
the thoughtless natural man confess his ignorance 
of that which will meet him when his spirit returns 
to God. The great mass of mankind are totally va- 
cant of any just apprehension of what will be their 
state of mind, upon being introduced into Grod's pres- 
ence. They have never seriously considered what 
must be the effect upon their views and feelings, of 
an entire withdrawn! en t from the scenes and ob- 
jects of earth, and an entrance into those of the fu- 
ture state. Most men are wholly engrossed in the 
present existence, and do not allow their thoughts 
to reach over into that invisible region which rev- 
elation discloses, and which the uncontrollable 
workings of conscience sometimes force upon their 
attention for a moment. How many men there are, 
whose sinful and thoughtless lives prove that they 
are not aware that the future world will, by its 



A SELF-CONSCIOUS STATE. 



7 



very characteristics, fill them with a species and a 
grade of information that will be misery unutter- 
able. Is it not the duty and the wisdom of all such, 
to attempt to conjecture and anticipate the coming 
experience of the human soul in the day of judg- 
ment and the future life, in order that by repent- 
ance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus 
Christ they may be able to stand in that day ? Let 
us then endeavor to know, at least "in part," con- 
cerning the eternal state. 

The latter clause of the text specifies the gen- 
eral characteristic of existence in the future world. 
It is a mode of existence in which the rational 
mind " hiatus even as it is known." It is a world 
of knowledge, — of conscious knowledge. In thus 
unequivocally asserting that our existence beyond 
tlie tomb is one of distinct consciousness, revelation 
has taught us what we most desire and need to 
know. The first question that would be raised by 
a creature who was just to be launched out upon 
an untried mode of existence would be the ques- 
tion : " Shall I be conscious f " However much he 
might desire to know the length and breadth of 
the ocean upon which he was to set sail, the scenery 
that was to be above him and around him in his 
coming history, — nay, however muck he might 
wish to know of matters still closer to himself 
than these; however much he mi odit crave to ask 
of his Maker, " With what body shall I come ?" all 
would be set second to the simple single inquiry ; 



8 THE FUTURE STATE 

ll " Shall I think, shall I feel, shall I know ?" In an- 
! swering this question in the affirmative, without 
any hesitation or ambiguity, the apostle Paul has 
in reality cleared up most of the darkness that 
overhangs the future state. The structure of the 
, and the fabric of the immaterial 
world, are matters of secondary importance, and 
may be left without explanation, provided only the 
rational mind of man be distinctly informed that 
it shall not sleep in unconsciousness, and that the 
immortal spark shall not become such stuff as 
dreams are made of. 

The future, then, is a mode of existence in which 
the soul " knows even as it is known." But this 
involves a perception in which there is no error, 
and no intermission. For, the human spirit in 
eternity " is known" by the omniscient God. If, 
then, it knows in the style and manner that God 
knows, there can be no misconception or cessation 
in its cognition. Here, then, we have a glimpse 
into the nature of our eternal existence. It is a 
state of distinct and unceasing knowledge of moral 
truth and moral objects. The human spirit, be it 
holy or sinful, a friend or an enemy of God, in 
eternity will always and forever be aware of it. 
There is no forgetting in the future state ; there is 
no dissipation of the mind there ; and there is no 
, aversion of the mind from itself. The cognition is 
a fixed quantity. Given the soul, and the knowl- 
edge is given. If it be holy, it is always conscious 



spiritual body 



A SELF-CONSCIOUS STATE. 



9 



of the fact. If it be sinful, it cannot for an instant 
lose the distressing consciousness of sin. In neither 
instance will it be necessary, as it generally is in 
this life, to make a special effort and a particular 
examination, in order to know the personal char- 
acter. Knowledge of God and His law, in the 
future life, is spontaneous and inevitable ; no crea- 
ture can escape it ; and therefore the bliss is un- 
ceasing in heaven, and the misery is unceasing in 
hell. There are no states of thoughtlessness and 
unconcern in the future life, because there is not 
an instant of forgetfulness or ignorance of the per- 
sonal character and condition. In the world 
beyond this, every man will constantly and dis- 
tinctly know what he is, and what he is not, 
because he will "be known" by the omniscient 
and unerring God, and will himself know in the 
same constant and distinct style and manner. 

If the most thoughtless person that now walks 
the globe could only have a clear perception of that 
kind of knowledge which is awaiting him upon the 
other side of the tomb, he would become the most 
thoughtful and the most anxious of men. It 
would sober him like death itself. And if any 
unpardoned man should from this moment onward 
be haunted with the thought, " When I die I shall 
enter into the light of God's countenance, and 
obtain a knowledge of my own character and obli- 
gations that will be as accurate and unvarying as 
that of God himself upon this subject," he would 



10 



THE FUTURE STATE 



find no rest until he had obtained an assurance of 
the Divine mercy, and such an inward change as 
would enable him to endure this deep and full con- 
sciousness of the purity of God and of the state of his 
heart. It is only because a man is unthinking, or 
because he imagines that the future world, will be 
like the present one, only longer in duration, that 
he is so indifferent regarding it. Here is the diffi- 
culty of the case, and the fatal mistake which 
the natural man makes. He supposes that the 
views which he shall have upon religious subjects 
in the eternal state, will be very much as they are 
in this, — vague, indistinct, fluctuating, and therefore 
causing no very great anxiety. He can pass days 
and weeks here in time without thinking of the 
claims of God upon him, and he imagines that the 
same thing is possible in eternity. While here 
upon earth, he certainly does not " know even as 
also he is known," and he hastily concludes that 
so it will be beyond the grave. It is because men 
imagine that eternity is only a very long space of 
time, filled up, as time here is, with dim, indistinct 
apprehensions, with a constantly shifting expe- 
rience, with shallow feelings and ever diversified 
emotions, in fine, with all the variety of pleasure 
and pain, of ignorance and knowledge, that per- 
tains to this imperfect and probationary life, — it is 
because mankind thus conceive of the final state, 
that it exerts no more influence over them. But 
such is not its true idea. There is a marked differ- 



A SELF-CONSCIOUS STATE. 



11 



ence between the present and the future life, in 
respect to uniformity and clearness of knowledge. 
" Now I know in part, but then shall I know even 
I as also I am known." The text and the whole 
| teaching of the New Testament prove that the 
invisible world is the unchangeable one ; that there 
are no alterations of character, and consequently no 
alternations of experience, in the future life ; that 
there are no transitions, as there are in this check- 
ered scene of earth, from happiness to unhappiness 
and back again. There is but one uniform type 
of experience for an individual soul in eternity. 
That soul is either uninterruptedly happy, or unin- 
terruptedly miserable, because it has either an un- 
interrupted sense of holiness, or an uninterrupted 
f sense of sin. He that is righteous is righteous 
still, and knows it continually; and he that is 
filthy is filthy still, and knows it incessantly. If 
we enter eternity as the redeemed of the Lord, 
we take over the holy heart and spiritual affections 
of regeneration, and there is no change but that 
of progression, — a change, consequently, only in 
degree, but none of kind or type. The same 
knowledge and experience that we have here " in 
part 1 ' we shall have there in completeness and per- 
manency. And the same will be true, if the heart 
be evil and the affections inordinate and earthly. 
And all this, simply because the mind's knowledge 
is clear, accurate, and constant. That which the 
transgressor knows here of God and his own heart, 



12 



THE FUTURE STATE 



but imperfectly, and fitfully, and briefly, lie shall 
know there perfectly, and constantly, and ever- 
lastingly. The law of constant evolution, and the 
characteristic of unvarying uniformity, will deter- 
mine and fix the type of experience in the evil as 
it does in the good. 

Such, then, is the general nature of knowledge in 
the future state. It is distinct, accurate, uninter- 
mittent, and unvarying. We shall know even as 
we are known, and we are known by the omnis- 
cient and unerring Searcher of hearts. Let us 
now apply this general characteristic of cognition 
in eternity to some particulars. Let us transfer 
our minds into the future and final state, and mark 
what ^oes on within them there. We ou^ht often 
to enter this mysterious realm, and become habit- 
uated to its mental processes, and by a wise antici- 
pation become prepared for the reality itself. 

I. The human mind, in eternity, will have a 
distinct and unvarying perception of the character 
of God. And that one particular attribute in this 
character, respecting which the cognition will be of 
the most luminous quality, is the Divine holiness. 
In eternity, the immaculateness of the Deity will 
penetrate the consciousness of every rational crea- 
ture with the subtlety and the thoroughness of fire. 
God's essence is infinitely pure, and intensely antag- 
onistic to sin, but it is not until there is a direct 
contact between it and the human mind, that man 
understands it and feels it. " I have heard of Thee 



A SELF-CONSCIOUS STATE. 



13 



by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth 
Thee, and I abhor myself." Even the best of men 
know but "in part " concerning the holiness of God. 
Yet it is noticeable how the apprehension of it 
grows upon the ripening Christian, as he draws 
nearer to the time of his departure. The vision of 
the cherubim themselves seems to dawn upon the 
soul of a Leighton and an Edwards, and though it 
does not in the least disturb their saintly and se- 
ra|)hic peace, because they are sheltered in the clefts 
of the Kock of Ages, as the brightness passes by 
them, it does yet bring out from their compara- 
tively holy and spiritual hearts the utterance, 
" Behold I am vile ; infinite upon infinite is my 
sin." But what shall be said of the common 
and ordinary knowledge of mankind, upon this 
subject ! Except at certain infrequent times, the 
natural man does not know even " in part," respect- 
ing the holiness of God, and hence goes on in trans- 
gression without anxiety or terror. It is the very 
first work of prevenient grace, to disclose to the 
human mind something of the Divine purity ; and 
whoever, at any moment, is startled by a more 
than common sense of God's holy character, should 
regard it and cherish it as a token of benevolence 
and care for his soul. 

Now, in eternity this species of knowledge must 
exist in the very highest degree. The human soul 
will be encircled by the character and attributes of 
God. It cannot look in any direction without 
2 



14 



THE FUTURE STATE 



beholding it. It is not so here. Here, in this life, 
man may and does avert his eye, and refuse to look 
at the sheen and the splendor that pains his organ. 
He fastens his glance upon the farm, or the mer- 
chandise, or the book, and perseveringly deter- 
mines not to see the purity of God that rebukes 
him. And here he can succeed. He can and does 
live days and months without so much as a moment- 
ary glimpse of his Maker, and, as the apostle says 
is " without Gocl " in this world. And yet such 
men do have, now and then, a view of the face of 
God. It may be for an instant 9 only. It may be 
merely a thought, a gleam, a flash ; and yet, like that 
quick flash of lightning, of which our Lord speaks, 
that lighteneth out of the one part of heaven, and - 
shineth unto the other part, that cometh out of the 
East and shineth even unto the West, — like that 
swift momentary flash which runs round the whole 
horizon in the twinkling of an eye, this swift 
thought and gleam of God's purity Alls the whole 
guilty soul full of light. What spiritual distress ' 
seizes the man in such moments, and of what a 
penetrating perception of the Divine character is 
he possessed for an instant ! It is a distinct and 
an accurate knowledge, but, unlike the cognition of 
the future state, it is not yet an inevitable and 
unintermittent one* He can expel it, and become 
a^ain an ignorant and indifferent beino- as he was 
before. He knows but " in part " at the very best, 
and this only temporarily. 



A SELF-CONSCIOUS STATE. 



15 



But carry this rational and accountable creature 
into eternity, denude him of the body of sense, and 
take him out of the busy and noisy world of sense 
into the silent world of spirits, and into the imme- 
diate presence of God, and then he will know upon 
this subject even as he is known. That sight and 
perception of God's purity which he had here for a 
brief instant, and which was so painful because he 
was not in sympathy with it, has now become ever- 
lasting. That distinct and accurate knowledge of 
God's character has now become his only knowl- 
edge. That flash of lightning has become light, — 
fixed, steady, permanent as the orb of day. The 
rational spirit cannot for an instant rid itself of the 
idea of God. Never for a moment, in the endless 
cycles, can it look away from its Maker; for in 
His presence what other object is there to look at? 
Time itself, with its pursuits and its objects of 
thought and feeling, is no longer, for the angel hath 
sworn it by Him who liveth for ever and ever. 
There is nothing left, then, to occupy and engross 
the attention but the character and attributes of 
God; and, now, the immortal mind, created for 
such a purpose, must yield itself up to that contem- 
plation which in this life it dreaded and avoided. 
The future state of every man is to be an open and 
unavoidable vision of God. If he delights in the 
view, he will be blessed ; if he loathes it, he will be 
miserable. This is the substance of heaven and 
hell. This is the key to the eternal destiny of 



16 



THE FUTUBE STATE 



every human soul. If a man love God, lie shall 
gaze at him and adore ; if he hate God, he shall 
gaze at him and gnaw his tongue for pain. 

The subject, as thus far unfolded, teaches the 
following lessons : 

1. In the first place, it shows that a false theory 
I of the future state will not protect a man from fu- 
j ture misery. For, we have seen that the eternal 
world, by its very structure and influences, throws a 
flood of light upon the Divine character, causing it 
to appear in its ineffable purity and splendor, and 
compels every creature to stand out in that light. 
There is no darkness in which man can hide him- 
self, when he leaves this world of shadows.- A false 
theory, therefore, respecting God, can no more pro- 
tect a man from the reality, the actual matter of 
fact, than a false theory of gravitation will preserve 
a man from falling from a precipice into a bottom- 
less abyss. Do you come to us with the theory 
that every human creature will be happy in another 
]ife, and that the doctrine of future misery is false ? 
We tell you, in reply, that God is holy, beyond 
dispute or controversy ; that He cannot endure the 
sight of sin ; and that in the future world every 
one of His creatures must see Him precisely as He 
is, and know Him in the real and eternal qualities of 
His nature. The man, therefore, who is full of sin, 
whose heart is earthly, sensual, selfish, must, when 
he ajDproaches that pure Presence, find that his the- 
ory of future happiness shrivels up like the heavens 



A SELF-CONSCIOUS STATE. 



17 



themselves, before the majesty and glory of God. 
He now stands face to face with a Being whose 
character has never dawned upon him with such a 
dazzling purity, and to dispute the reality would 
be like disputing the fierce splendor of the noonday 
sun. Theory must give way to fact, and the de- 
luded mortal must submit to its awful force. 

In this lies the irresistible power of death, judg- 
ment, and eternity, to alter the views of men. Up 
to these points they can dispute and argue, because 
there is no ocular demonstration. It is possible 
to debate the question this side of the tomb, because 
we are none of us face to face with God, and front 
to front with eternity. In the days of Noah, before 
the flood came, there was skepticism, and many the- 
ories concerning the threatened deluge. So long as 
the sky was clear, and the green earth smiled un- 
der the warm sunlight, it was not difficult for the 
unbeliever to maintain an argument in opposi- 
tion to the preacher of righteousness. But when 
the sky was rent with lightnings, and the earth 
was scarred with thunder-bolts, and the fountains of 
the great deep were broken up, where was the skep- 
ticism ? where were the theories ? where were the ar- 
guments ? When God teaches, " Where is the wise ? 
where is the scribe ? where is the disputer of this 
world % " They then knew as they were known ; 
they stood face to face with the facts, 
j It is this inevitableness of the demonstration up- 
on which we would fasten attention. We are not 



18 



THE FUTURE STATE 



always to live in this world of shadows. We are 
going individually into the very face and eyes of Je- 
hovah, and whatever notions we may have adopted 
and maintained must all disappear, except as they 
shall be actually verified by what we shall see and 
know in that period of our existence when we shall 
perceive with the accuracy and clearness of God 
Himself, Our most darling theories, by which we 
may have sought to solace our souls in reference to 
our future destiny, if false, will be all ruthlessly 
torn away, and we must see what verily and eter- 
nally is. All mankind come upon one doctrinal 
platform when they enter eternity. They all 
have one creed there. There is not a skeptic even 
in hell. The devils believe and tremble. The de- 
monstration that God is holy is so irrefragable, so 
complete and absolute, that doubt or denial is im- 
possible in any spirit that has passed the line be- 
tween time and eternity. 

2. In the second place, this subject shows that 
indifference and carelessness respecting tlie future life 
will not protect the soul from future misery . There 
may be no false theory adopted, and yet if there be 
no thoughtful preparation to meet God, the. result 
will be all the same. I may not dispute the New- 
tonian theory of gravitation, yet if I pay no heed to 
it, if I simply forget it, as I clamber up moun- 
tains, and walk by the side of precipices, my 
body will as surely be dashed to pieces as if I were a 
theoretical skeptic upon the subject of gravitation. 



A SELF-CONSCIOUS STATE. 



19 



The creature's indifference can no more alter the 
immutable nature of God, than can the creature's 
false reasoning:, or false theorizing;. That which is 
settled in heaven, that which is fixed aud eternal, 
stands the same stern, relentless fact under all 
circumstances. We see the operation of this 
sometimes here upon earth, in a very impres- 
sive manner. A youth or a man simply neg- 
lects the laws and conditions of physical well-be- 
ing. He does not dispute them. He merely pays 
no attention to them. A few years pass by, and 
disease and torturing pain become his portion. He 
comes now into the awful . presence of the powers 
and the facts which the Creator has inlaid in the 
world of physical existence. He knows now even 
as he is known. And the laws are stern. He finds 
no place of repentance in them, though he seek it 
carefully with tears. The laws never repent, never 
change their mind. The principles of physical life 
and growth which he has never disputed, but which 
lie has never regarded, now crush him into the 
ground, in their relentless march and motion. 

Precisely so will it be in the moral world, and 
with reference to the holiness of God. That man who 
simply neglects to prepare himself to see a holy 
God, though he never denies that there is such a 
Being, will find the vision just as unendurable 
to him, as it is to the most determined of earthly 
skeptics. So far as the final result in the other world 
is concerned, it matters little whether a man adds 



20 



THE EUTUKE STATE 



unbelief to Lis carelessness, or not The carelessness 
will ruin his soul, whether with or without skepti- 
cism. Orthodoxy is valuable only as it inspires the 
hope that it will end in timely and practical atten- 
tion to the concerns of the soul. But if you show 
me a man who you infallibly know will go through 
life careless and indifferent, I will show you a man 
who will not be prepared to meet God face to face, 
even though his theology be as accurate as that of 
St. Paul himself. Nay, we have seen that there is a 
time coming when all skeptics will become believers 
like the devils themselves, and will tremble at the 
ocular demonstration of truths which they have 
I heretofore denied. Theoretical unbelief must be a 
temporary affair in every man ; for it can last only 
until he dies. Death will make all the world the- 
oretically orthodox, and bring them all to one and 
the same creed. But death will not bring them all 
to one and the same happy experience of the truth, 
and love of the creed. For those who have made 
preparation for the vision of God and the ocular 
demonstration of Divine truth, these will r\se upon 
their view with a blessed and glorious light. But 
for those who have remained sinful and careless, 
these eternal truths and facts will be a vision of 
terror and despair. They will not alter. No man 
will find any place of repentance in them, though, 
like Esau, he seek it carefully and with tears. 

3. In the third place, this subject shows that only 
faith in Christ and a neiu heart can protect the soul 



A SELF-CONSCIOUS STATE. 



21 



from future misery. The nature and character of 
God cannot be altered, and therefore the change 
must be wrought in man's soul. The disposition 
and affections of the heart must be brought into 
such sweet sympathy and harmony with God's holi- 
ness, that when in the next world that holiness 
shall be revealed as it is to the seraphim, it will mil 
in upon the soul like the rays of a vernal sun, start- 
ing every thing into cheerful life and joy. If the 
Divine holiness does not make this impression, it 
produces exactly the contrary effect. If the sun's 
rays do not start the bud in the spring, they kill it. 
If the vision of a holy God is not our heaven, then 
it must be our hell. Look then directly into your 
heart, and tell us which is the impression for you. 
Can you say with David, " We give thanks and re- 
juice, at the remembrance of Thy holiness?" Are 
you glad that there is such a pure and immaculate 
Being upon the throne, and when His excellence 
abashes you, and rebukes your corruption and sin, 
do you say, " Let the righteous One smite me, it 
shall be a kindness V Do you love God's holy char- 
acter ] If so, you are a new creature, and are ready 
for the vision of God, face to face. For you, to 
know God even as you are known by Him will not 
be a terror, but a glory and a joy. You are in sym- 
pathy with Him. You have been reconciled to Him 
by the blood of atonement, and brought into harmo- 
ny with Him by the washing of regeneration. For 
you, as a believer in Christ, and a new man in 

2* 



22 



THE FUTF/KE STATE, 



Christ Jesus, all is well. The more you see of God, 
th^ more you desire to see of Him ; and the more 
you know of Him, the more you long to know. 

But if this is not your experience, then all is ill 
with you. We say experience. You must feel in 
this manner toward God, or you cannot endure the 
vision which is surely to break upon you after death. 
You must love this holiness without which no man 
can see the Lord. You may approve of it, you may 
pmse it in other men, but if there is no affectionate 
going out of your own heart toward the holy God, 
you are not in right relations to Him. You have 
the carnal mind, and that is enmity, and enmity is 
misery. 

Look these facts in the eye, and act accordingly. 
" Make the tree good, and his fruit good," says 
Christ. Begin at the beginning. Aim at nothing 
less than a change of disposition and affections. 
Ask for nothing less, seek for nothing less. If you 
become inwardly holy as God is holy ; if you be- 
come a friend of God, reconciled to Him by the 
blood of Christ ; then your nature will be like God's 
nature, your character like God's character. Then, 
when you shall know God even as you are known 
by Him, and shall see Him as He is, the knowledge 
and the vision will be everlasting joy. 



THE EUTUKE STATE A SELF-CONSCIOUS STATE. 



1 Cor. xiii. 12. — " Now I know in part; but then shall I know even as 
also I am known." 



In the preceding discourse, we found in these 
words the principal characteristic of our future ex- 
istence. The world beyond the tomb is a world of 
clear and conscious knowledge. When, at death, I 
shall leave this region of time and sense and enter 
eternity, my knowledge, the apostle Paul tells me, 
instead of being diminished or extinguished by the 
dissolution of the body, will not only be continued 
to me, but will be even greater and clearer than 
before. He assures me that the kind and style of 
my cognition will be like that of God himself. I 
am to know as I am known. My intelligence will 
coincide with that of Deity. 

By this we are not to understand that the crea- 
ture's knowledge, in the future state, will be as ex- 
tensive as that of the Omniscient One ; or that it 
will be as profound and exhaustive as His. The in- 
finitude of things can be known only by the Infinite 



24 



THE FUTURE STATE 



Mind ; and the creature will forever Ioq making new 
acquisitions, and never reaching the final limit of 
truths and facts. But upon certain moral subjects, 
the perception of the creature will be like that of 
his Maker and Judge, so far as the hind or qual- 
ity of the apprehension is concerned. Every man 
in eternity, for illustration, will see sin to be an 
odious and abominable thing, contrary to the holy 
nature of God, and awakening in that nature the 
most holy and awful displeasure. His knowledge 
upon this subject will be so identical with that of 
God, that he will be unable to palliate or excuse 
his transgressions, as he does in this world. He 
will see them precisely as God sees them. He must 
know them as God knows them, because he will 
" know even as he is known." 

II. In continuing the examination of this solemn 
subject, we remark as a second and further charac- 
teristic of the knowledge which every man will 
possess in eternity, that he will know himself even 
as he is known by God. His knowledge of God 
we have found to be direct, accurate, and unceas- 
ing ; his knowledge of his own heart will be so like- 
wise. This follows from the relation of the two 
species of cognition to each other. The true knowl- 
edge of God involves the true knowledge of self. 
The instant that any one obtains a clear view of the 
holy nature of his Maker, he obtains a clear view 
of his own sinful nature. Philosophers tell us, that 
our consciousness of God and our consciousness of 



A SELF-CONSCIOUS STATE. 



25 



self mutually involve and imply each other ; l in 
other words, that we cannot know God without 
immediately knowing ourselves, any more than we 
can know light without knowing darkness, any 
■ more than we can have the idea of right without 
having the idea of wrong. And it is certainly true 
that so soon as any being can intelligently say, 
" God is holy," he can and must say, " I am holy," 
or, " I am unholy," as the fact may be. Indeed, the 
only way in which man can truly know himself is 
to contrast himself with his Maker; and the most 
exhaustive self-knowledge and self-consciousness is 
to be found, not in the schools of secular philoso- 
phy but, in the searchings of the Christian heart, 
— in the " Confessions " of Augustine ; in the laby- 
rinthine windings of Edwards " On the Affections." 
Hence the frequent exhortations in the Bible to 
look at the character of God, in order that we may 
know ourselves and be abased by the contrast. In 
eternity, therefore, if we must have a clear and con- 
stant perception of God's character, we must neces- 
sarily have a distinct and unvarying knowledge of 
our own. It is not so here. Here in this world, 
man knows himself but " in part." Even when he 
endeavors to look within, prejudice and passion 
often -affect his judgment; but more often, the fear 
of what he shall discover in the secret places of his 
soul deters him from making the attempt at self- 



1 l^o^erim me, noverim Te. — Bsrxaed. 



26 



THE EUTUEE STATE 



examination. For it is a surprising truth that the 
transgressor dares not bring out into the light that 
which is most truly his own, that which he himself 
has originated, and which he loves and cherishes 
with all his strength and might. He is afraid of 
his own heart ! Even when God forces the vision 
of it upon him, he would shut his eyes ; or if this 
be not possible, he would look through distorting 
media and see it with a false form and coloring. 

" But 'tis not so above ; 
There is no shuffling ; there the action lies 
In his true nature : and we ourselves compelled, 
Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults, 
- To give in evidence." 1 

The spirit that has come into the immediate pres- 
ence of God, and beholds Him face to face, cannot 
deceive Him, and therefore cannot deceive itself. 
It cannot remain ignorant of God's character any 
longer, and therefore cannot remain ignorant of its 
own. 

We do not sufficiently consider and ponder the 
elements of anguish that are sleeping in the fact 
that in eternity a sirmer^must know God's character, 
and therefore must know his own. It is owing to 
their neglect of such subjects, that mankind so little 
understand what an awful power there is in the 
distinct perception of the Divine purity, and the al- 
lied consciousness of sin. Lord Bacon tells us that 

1 Shakspeaee: Hamlet, Act III., Sc. 4. 



A SELF-CONSCIOUS STATE. 



27 



the knowledge acquired in the schools is power ; 
but it is weakness itself, if compared with that form 
and species of cognition which is given to the mind 
of man by the workings of conscience in the light 
of the Divine countenance. If a transgressor knew 
clearly what disclosures of God's immaculateness 
and of his own character must be made to him in 
eternity, he would fear them, if unprepared, far 
more than physical sufferings. If he understood 
what capabilities for distress the rational spirit pos- 
sesses in its own mysterious constitution, if when 
brought into contact with the Divine purity it has 
no sympathy with it, but on the contrary an intense 
hostility ; if he knew how violent will be the antag- 
onism between God's holiness and man's sin when 
the two are finally brought together, the assertion 
that there is no external source of anguish in hell, 
even if it were true, would afford him no relief. 
Whoever goes into the presence of God with a cor- 
rupt heart carries thither a source of sorrow that is 
inexhaustible, simply because that corrupt heart 
must be distinctly T&nown, and perpetually understood 
by its possessor, in that Presence. The thoughtless 
man may never know while upon earth, even 61 in 
part," the depth and the bitterness of this fountain, — 
he may go through this life for the most part self- 
ignorant and undistressed, — but he must know in 
that other, final, world the immense fulness of its 
woe, as it unceasingly wells up into everlasting 
death. One theory of future punishment is, that 



28 



THE FUTURE STATE 



our globe will become a penal orb of fire, and the 
Tricked with material bodies, miraculously preserved 
b y Omnipotence, will burn forever in it. But what 
is this compared with the suffering soul? The 
spirit itself, thus alienated from God's purity and 
conscious that it is, wicked and knowing that it is 
wicked, becomes an " orb of fire." " It is," — says 
John Howe, who was no fanatic, but one of the 
most thoughtful and philosophic of Christians, — " it 
is a throwing hell into hell, when a wicked man 
comes to hell ; for he was his own hell before." 1 

It must ever be borne in mind, that the principal 
source and seat of future torment will be the sin- 
ner's sin. We must never harbor the thought, or 
fall into the notion, that the retributions of eter- 
nity are a wanton and arbitrary infliction upon the 
part of God. Some men seem to suppose, or at any 
rate they represent, that the woes of hell are a spe- 
cies of undeserved suffering ; that God, having cer- 
tain helpless and innocent creatures in His power, 
visits them with wrath, in the exercise of an ar- 
bitrary sovereignty. But this is not Christ's doc- 
trine of endless punishment. There is no suffering 
inflicted, here or hereafter, upon any thing but s ■'/?, 
— unrepented, incorrigible sin, — and if you will show 
me a sinless creature, I will show you one who will 
never feel the least twinge or pang through all eter- 
nity. Death is the wages of sin. The substance 



Howe : On Regeneration. Sermon xliii. 



A SELF-CONSCIOUS STATE. 



29 



of the wretchedness of the lost will issue right out 
of their 'own character. They will see their own 
wickedness steadily and clearly, and this will make 
them miserable. It will be the carrying out of the 
same principle that operates here iu time, and in 
our own daily experience. Suppose that by some 
method, all the sin of my heart, and all the sins of 
my outward conduct, were made clear to my own 
view ; suppose that for four-and-twenty hours con- 
tinuously I were compelled to look at my wicked- 
ness intently, just as I would look intently into a 
burning furnace of fire ; suppose that for this length 
of time I should see nothing, and hear nothing, and 
experience nothing of the world about me, but 
should be absorbed in the vision of my own disobe- 
dience of (rod's good law, think you that (setting 
aside the work of Christ) I should be happy ? On 
the contrary, should I not be the most wretched 
of mortals ? Would not this self-knowledge be 
pure living torment ? And yet the misery springs 
entirely out of the sin. There is nothing arbitrary 
or wanton in the suffering. It is not brought in 
upon me from the outside. It comes out of myself. 
And, while I was wri thing under the sense and 
power of my transgressions, would you mock me, 
by telling me that I was a poor innocent struggling 
in the hands of omnipotent malice; that the suffer- 
ing was unjust, and that if there were any justice 
in the universe, I should be delivered from it ? No, 
we shall suffer in the future world only as we are 



30 



THE FUTUKE STATE 



sinners, and because we are sinners. There will be 
weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, only 
because the sinful creature will be compelled to 
look at himself ; to know his sin in the same man- 
ner that it is known by the Infinite Intelligence. 
And is there any injustice in this ? If a sinful being 
cannot bear the sight of himself, would you have 
the holy Deity step in between him and his sins, so 
that he should not see them, and so that he might 
be happy in them ? Away with such folly and 
. such wickedness. For it is the height of wicked- 
ness to desire that some method should be invent- 
ed, and introduced into the universe of God, where- 
by the wages of sin shall be life and joy ; whereby a 
sinner can look into his own wicked heart and be 
happy. 

III. A third characteristic of the knowledge 
which every man will possess in eternity will be a 
clear understanding of the nature and wants of the 
soul. Man has that in his constitution which needs 
God, and which cannot be at rest except in God. 
A state of sin is a state of alienation and separation 
from the Creator. It is, consequently, in its intrin- 
sic nature, a state of restlessness and dissatisfaction. 
"There is no peace saith my God to the wicked; 
the wicked are like the troubled sea." In order 
to know this, it is only necessary to bring an apos- 
tate creature, like man, to a consciousness of the 
original requirements and necessities of his being. 
But upon this subject, man while upon earth most 



A SELF-CONSCIOUS STATE. 



31 



certainly knows only u in part." Most men are 
wholly ignorant of the constitutional needs of a ra- 
tional spirit, and are not aware that it is as impos- 
sible for the creature, when in eternity, to live hap- 
pily out of God, as it is for the body to live at all 
in the element of fire. Most men, while here upon 
earth, do not know upon this subject as they are 
known. God knows that the whole created uni- 
verse cannot satisfy the desires of an immortal 
being, but impenitent men do not know this fact 
with a clear perception, and they will not until they 
die and go into another world. 

And the reason is this. So long as the worldly 
natural man lives upon earth, he can find a sort of 
substitute for God. He has a capacity for loving, 
and he satisfies it to a certain degree by loving him- 
self ; by loving fame, wealth, pleasure, or some form 
of creature-good. He has a capacity for thinking, 
and he gratifies it in a certain manner by ponder- 
ing the thoughts of other minds, or by original 
speculations of his own. And so we might go 
through with the list of man's capacities, and we 
should find, that he contrives, while here upon earth, 
to meet these appetences of his nature, after a sort, 
by the objects of time and sense, and to give his 
soul a species of satisfaction short of God, and away 
from God. Fame, wealth, and pleasure ; the lust 
of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life ; 
become a substitute for the Creator, in his search 
for happiness. As a consequence, the unregenerate 



32 



THE FUTUKE STATE 



man knows but " in part" respecting the primitive 
and constitutional necessities of his being. He is 
feeding them with a false and unhealthy food, and in 
this way manages to stifle for a season their true and 
deep cravings. But this cannot last forever. When 
a man dies and goes into eternity, he takes nothing 
with him but his character and his moral affinities. 
" We brought nothing; into this world, and it is cer- 
tain that we can carry nothing out." The original 
requirements and necessities of his soul are not de- 
stroyed by death, but the earthly objects by which 
he sought to meet them, and by which he did meet 
them after a sort, are totally destroyed. He still 
has a capacity for loving; but in eternity where is 
the fame, the wealth, the pleasure upon which he 
has hitherto expended it % He still has a capacity 
for thinking; but where are the farm, the merchan- 
dise, the libraries, the works of art, the human lit 

1 eratures, and the human philosophies, upon which 
he has heretofore employed it? The instant you 
cut off a creature who seeks his good in the world, 
and not in God, from intercourse with the w^orld, 
you cause him to know even as he is known re- 
specting the true and proper portion of his soul. 
Deprived of his accustomed and his false object of 
love and support, he immediately begins to reach 
out in all directions for something to love, some- 
thing to think of, something to trust in, and finds 

I nothing. Like that insect in our gardens which 
spins a slender thread by which to guide itself in 



A SELF-CONSCIOUS STATE. 



33 



its meanderings, and which when the clew is cut 
thrusts out its head in every direction, but does not 
venture to advance, the human creature who has 
suddenly been cut off by death from his accustomed 
objects of support and pleasure stretches out in 
every direction for something to take their place. 
And the misery of his case is, that when in his 
Teachings out he sees God, or comes into contact 
with God, lie starts back like the little insect when 
you present a coal of fire to it. He needs as much 
■ as ever, to love some beins; or some thins:. But 
he has no heart to love God, and there is no other 
being and no other thing in eternity to love. He 
needs, as much as ever, to think of some object or 
some subject. But to think of God is a distress to 
him ; to reflect upon divine and holy things is 
weariness and woe. He is a carnal, earthly-minded 
man, and therefore cannot find enjoyment in such 
meditations. Before he can take relish in such ob- 
jects and such thinking, he must be born again ; 
he must become a new creature. But there is no 
new-birth of the soul in eternity. The disposition 
and character which a man takes alonsr with him 
when he dies remains eternally unchanged. The 
constitutional wants still continue. The man must 
love, and must think. But the only object in eter- 
nity upon which such capability can be expended 
is God ; and the carnal mind, saith the Scripture, 
is enmity against God, and is not subject to the law 
of God, neither indeed can be. 



34 



THE FUTURE STATE 



Now, whatever may be tile course of a man in 
this lite ; whether he becomes aware of these creat- 
ed imperatives, and constitutional necessities of his 
immortal spirit or not ; whether he hears its re 
proaches and rebukes because he is feeding them 
with the husks of earth, instead of the bread of 
heaven, or not ; it is certain that in the eternal 
world they will be continually awake and perpetu- 
ally heard. For that spiritual world will be fitted 
up for nothing but a rational spirit. There will be 
nothing material, nothing like earth, in its arrange- 
ments. Flesh and blood cannot 'inherit either the 
kingdom of God or the kingdom of Satan. The 
enjoyments and occupations of this sensuous and 
material state will be found neither in heaven nor 
in hell. Eternity is a spiritual region, and all its 
objects, and all its provisions, will have reference 
solely to the original capacities and destination of 
a spiritual creature. They will, therefore, all be 
terribly reminiscent of apostasy ; only serving to 
remind the soul of what it was originally designed 
to be, and of what it has now lost by worshipping 
and loving the creature more than the Creator. 
How wretched then must- man be, when, with the 
awakening of this restlessness and dissatisfaction 
of an immortal spirit, and with the bright pattern 
of what he ought to be continually before his eye, 
there is united an intensity of self-love and enmity 
toward God, that drives him anywhere and every- 
where but to his Maker, for peace and comfort. How 



A SELF-CONSCIOUS STATE. 



35 



full of woe must the lost creature be, when his im- 
mortal necessities are awakened and demand their 
proper food, but cannot obtain it, because of the 
aversion of the heart toward the only Being who can 
satisfy them. For, the same hatred of holiness, and 
disinclination toward spiritual things, which pre- 
vents a man from choosing God for his portion here, 
will prevent him hereaft er. It is the bold fancy of an 
imaginative thinker, 1 that the material forces which 
lie beneath external nature are conscious of being 
bound down and confined under the crust of the 
earth, like the giant Enceladus under Mt. Etna, and 
that there are times when they roar from the depths 
where they are in bondage, and call aloud for free- 
dom ; when they rise in their might, and manifest 
themselves in the earthquake and the volcano. It 
will be a more fearful and terrific struggle, when 
the powers of an apostate being are roused in eter- 
nity ; when the then eternal sin and guilt has its 
hour of triumph, and the eternal reason and con- 
science have their hour of judgment and remorse; 
when the inner world of man's spirit, by this schism 
and antagonism within it, has a devastation and a 
ruin spread over it more awful than that of earth- 
quakes and volcanic eruptions. 

We have thus, in this and the preceding dis- 
course, considered the kind and quality of that 
knowledge which every human being will possess 

1 Bockshamveb : On the Will 



36 



THE FUTURE STATE 



in the eternal world. He will know God, and lie 
will know himself, with a distinct, and accurate, 
and unceasing intelligence like that of the Deity. 
It is one of the most solemn and startling themes 
that can be presented to the human mind. We 
have not been occupied with what will be around 
a creature, what will be outside of a man, in the life 
to come ; but we have been examining what will 
be within him. We have been considering what he 
will think of beyond the tomb ; what his own feel- 
ings will be when he meets God face to face. But 
a man's immediate consciousness determines his 
I happiness or his misery. As a man thinketh in his 
i heart so is he. We must not delude ourselves with 
the notion, that the mere arrangements and circum- 
stances of the spiritual world will decide our weal 
or our woe, irrespective of the tenor of our thoughts 
and affections ; that if we are only placed in pleas- 
ant gardens or in golden streets, all will be well. 
As a man thinketh in his heart, so will he be in 
his experience. This vision of God, and of our own 
hearts, will be either the substance of heaven, or 
the substance of hell. The great future is a world 
of open vision. Now, we see through a glass 
darkly, but then, face to face. The vision for every 
human creature will be beatific, if he is prepared 
for it ; will be terrific, if he is unprepared. 

Does not the subject, then, speak with solemn 
warning to every one who knows that he is not pre- 
pared for the coming revelations that will be made 



A SELF-CONSCIOUS STATE. 



37 



to liim when lie dies ; for this clear and accurate 
knowledge of God, and of his own character? Do 
you believe that there is an eternal world, and that 
the general features of this mode of existence have 
been scripturally depicted ? Do you suppose that 
your present knowledge of the holiness of God, 
and of your own sinful nature, is equal to what 
it will be when your spirit returns to God who 
gave it ? Are you prepared for the impending 
and inevitable disclosures and revelations of the 
day of judgment? Do you believe that Jesus 
Christ is the Eternal Son of God, who came forth 
from eternity eighteen centuries since, and went 
back into eternity, leaving upon record for human 
instruction an unexaggerated description of that 
invisible world, founded upon the personal knowl- 
edge of an eye-witness ? 

Whoever thus believes, concerning the record 
which Christ and His apostles have left for the 
information of dim-eyed mortals who see only 
" through a glass darkly," and who know only " in 
part," ought immediately to adopt their descriptions 
and ponder them long and well. We have already 
observed, that the great reason why the future 
state exerts so little influence over worldly men 
lies in the fact, that they do not bring it into 
distinct view. They live absorbed in the interests 
and occupations of earth, and their future abode 
throws in upon them none of its solemn shadows 
and warnings. A clear luminous perception of the 

3 



3S 



THE FUTURE STATE 



nature and characteristics of that invisible world 
which is soon to receive them, would make them 
thoughtful and anxious for their souls; for they 
would become aware of their utter unfitness, 
their entire lack of preparation, to see God face to 
face. Still, live and act as sinful men may, eternity 
is over and around them all, even as the firmament 
is bent over the globe. If theirs were a penitent 
and a believing eye, they would look up with adora- 
tion into its serene depths, and joyfully behold the 
soft gleam of its stars, and it would send down 
upon them the sweet influences of its constellations. 
They may shut their eyes upon all this glory, and 
feel only earthly influences, and continue to be "of 
the earth, earthy." But there is a time coming when 
they cannot but look at eternity; when this firma- 
ment will throw them into consternation by the 
livid glare of its lightnings, and will compel them 
to hear the quick rattle and peal of its thunder ; 
when it will not afford them a vision of glory and 
joy, as it will the redeemed and the holy, but one 
of despair and destruction. 

There is only one shelter from this storm ; there 
is only one covert from this tempest. He, and 
only he, who trusts in Christ's blood of atone- 
ment, will be able to look into the holy counte- 
nance of God, and upon the dread record of his 
own sins, without either trembling or despair 
The merits and righteousness of Christ so clothe 
the guilty soul, that it can endure the otherwise 



A SELF-COXSCIOUS STATE. 



30 



intolerable brightness of God's pure throne and 
presence. 

"Jesus! Thy blood and righteousness, 
My beauty are, my glorious dress ; 
Mid flaming worlds, in these arrayed, 
"With joy shall I lift up my head." 

Amidst those great visions that are to dawn upon 
every human creature, those souls will be in perfect 
peace who trust in the Great Propitiation. In those 
great tempests that are to shake down the earth and 
the sky, those hearts will be calm and happy who 
are hid in the clefts of the Rock of Ages. Flee then 
to Christ, ye prisoners of hope. Make preparation 
to know even as you are known, by repentance 
toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. A 
voice comes to you out of the cloud, saying, " This 
is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased ; 
hear ye Him." Remember, and forget not, that this 
knowledge of God and your own heart is inevitable.'} 
At death, it will all of it flash upon the soul like 
li^htnino; at midnight. It will fill the whole hori- 
zon of your being full of light. If you are in Christ 
Jesus, the light will not harm you. But if you are 
out of Christ, it will blast you. No sinful mortal 
can endure such a vision an instant, except as he is 
sprinkled with atoning blood, and clothed in the 
righteousness of the great Substitute and Surety 
for guilty man. Flee then to CHRIST, and so be 
prepared to know God and your own heart, even 
as you are known. 



GOD'S EXHAUSTIVE KNOWLEDGE OF MM. 



Psalm cxxxix. 1-6. — " Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou 
knowest my down-sitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my 
thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art 
acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, 
lo, Lord, thou knowest* it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and 
before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful 
for me ; it is high, I cannot attain unto it." 



! One of the most remarkable .characteristics of a 
rational being is the power of self-inspection. The 
brute creation possesses many attributes that are 
common to human nature, but it has no faculty that 
bears even the remotest resemblance to that of self- 
examination. Instinctive action, undoubtedly, ap- 
proaches the nearest of any to human action. That 
wonderful power by which the bee builds up a 
structure that is not exceeded in accuracy, and regu- 
larity, and economy of space, by the best geometry 
of Athens or of Rome ; by which the beaver, after 
having chosen the very best possible location for it 
on the stream, constructs a dam that outlasts the 
work of the human engineer ; by which the faith- 



god's exhaustive knowledge of man. 41 



ful clog contrives to perform many acts of affection, 
in spite of obstacles, and in the face of unexpected 
discouragements, — the instinct, we say, of the brute 
creation, as exhibited in a remarkably wide rans;e of 
action and contrivance, and in a very varied and 
oftentimes perplexing conjuncture of circumstances, 
seems to bring man and beast very near to each 
other, and to furnish some ground for the theory of 
the materialist, that there is no essential difference 
between the two species of existences. But when 
we pass beyond the mere power of acting, to the ad- 
ditional power of surveying or inspecting an act, and 
of forming an estimate of its relations to moral law, 
we find a faculty in man that makes him differ in 
kind from the brute. No brute animal, however 
high up the scale, however ingenious and sagacious 
he may be, can ever look back and think of what 
he has done, " his thoughts the meanwhile accusing 
or else excusing him." 

The mere power of performance, is, after all, not 
the highest power. It is the superadded power of 
calmly looking over the performance, and seeing 
wlmt has been done, that marks the higher agency, 
and denotes a loftier order of existence than that of 
the animal or of material nature. If the mere abil- 
ity to work with energy, and produce results, con- 
stituted the highest species of power, the force of 
gravitation would be the loftiest energy in the uni- 
verse. Its range of execution is wider than that of 
any other created principle. But it is one of the 



42 god's exhaustive knowledge of man. 



lower and least important of agencies, "because it is 
blind. It is destitute of the power of self-inspection. 
It does not know what it does, or why. "Man," 
says Pascal, 1 " is but a reed, aud the weakest in all 
nature ; yet he is a reed that thinks. The whole ma- 
terial universe does not need to arm itself, in order 
to crush him. A vapor, a drop of water is enough 
to destroy him. But if the whole universe of mat- 
ter should combine to crush him, man would be 
more noble than that which destroyed him. For he 
would be conscious that he was dying, while, of the 
advantage which the material universe had obtained 
over him, that universe would know nothing. 1 ' The 
action of a little child is altogether nothing and van- 
ity compared with the energy of the earthquake or 
the lightning, so far as the exhibition of force and 
the mere power to act is concerned ; but, on the oth- 
er hand, it is more solemn than centuries of merely 
natural processes, and more momentous than all the 
material phenomena that have ever filled the celestial 
spaces, when we remember that it is the act of a 
thinking agent, and a self-conscious creature. The 
power to survey the act, when united with the pow- 
er to act, sets mind infinitely above matter, and 
places the action of instinct, wonderful as it is, infi- 
nitely below the action of self-consciousness. The 
proud words of one of the characters in the old 
drama are strictly true : 

1 Pexsees : Grandeur de rhomine. 6. Ed. Wetstein. 



god's exhaustive knowledge of man. 43 



> "I am a nobler substance than the stars, 
\ Or are they better since they are bigger? 
( I have a will and faculties of choice, 

To do or not to do ; and reason why 

I do or not do this : the stars have none. 

They know not why they shine, more than this taper, 

Nor how they work, nor what." 1 

But this characteristic of a rational being, though 
thus distinctive and common to every man that 
lives, is exceedingly marvellous. Like the air we 
breathe, like the light we see, it involves a mystery 
that no man has ever solved. Self-consciousness 
has been the problem and the thorn of the philoso- 
phic mind in all ages ; and the mystery is not yet 
unravelled. Is not that a wonderful process by 
which a man knows, not some other thing but, 
himself ? Is not that a strange act by which he, 
for a time, duplicates his own unity, and sets him- 
self to look at himself ? All other acts of conscious- 
ness are comparatively plain and explicable. When 
we look at an object other than ourselves, — when we 
behold a tree or the sky, — the act of knowledge is 
much more simple and easy to be explained. For 
then there is something outside of us, and in front 
of us, and another thing than we are, at which we 
look, and which we behold. But in this act of self- 
inspection there is no second thing, external, and 
extant to us, which we contemplate. That which 
is seen is one and the same identical object with 

1 Chapman : Byron's Conspiracy. 



44 god's exhaustive knowledge of man. 



that winch sees. The act of knowledge which in 
all other instances requires the existence of two 
things, — a thing to be known and a thing to know, — 
in this instance is performed with only one. It is 
the individual soul that sees, and it is that very 
same individual soul that is seen. It is the indi- 
vidual man that knows, and it is that very identi- 
cal man that is known. The eyeball looks at the 
eyeball. 

And when this power of self-inspection is con- 
nected with the power of memory, the mystery of 
human existence becomes yet more complicated, and 
its explanation still more baffling. Is it not exceed- 
ingly wonderful, that we are able to re-exhibit our 
own thoughts and feelings ; that we can call back 
what has gone clear by in our experience, and 
steadily look at it once more ? Is it not a mystery 
that we can summon before our mind's eye feelings, 
purposes, desires, and thoughts, which occurred in 
the soul long years ago, and which, perhaps, until this 
moment, we have not thought of for years \ Is it not 
a marvel, that they come up with all the vividness 
with which they first took origin in our experience, 
and that the lapse of time has deprived them of 
none of their first outlines or colors ? Is it not 
strange, that we can recall that one particular feeling 
of hatred toward a fellow-man which rankled in 
the heart twenty years ago; that we can now eye 
it, and see it as plainly as if it were still throbbing 
within us ; that we can feel guilty for it once niore, 



GOD S EXHAUSTIVE KNOWLEDGE OF MAX. 



45 



as if we were still cherishing it I If it were not so 
common, would it not be surprising, that we can 
reflect upon acts of disobedience toward God 
which we committed in the days of childhood, and 
far back in the dim twilights of moral agency ; 
that we can re-act them, as it were, in our memory, 
and fill ourselves again with the shame and distress 
that attended their original commission \ Is it not 
one of those mysteries which overhang human exist- 
ence, and from which that of the brute is wholly 
free, that man can live his life, and act his agency, 
over, and over, and over again, indefinitely and for- 
ever, in his self-consciousness ; that he can cause all 
his deeds to pass and re-pass before his self-reflection, 
and be filled through and through with the agony 
of self-knowledge \ Truly such knowledge is too 
wonderful forme ; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. 
Whither shall I go from my own spirit, and whith- 
er shall I flee from my own presence. If I ascend up 
into heaven, it is there looking at me. If I make 
my bed in hell, behold it is there torturing me. If 
I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the 
uttermost parts of the sea, even there must I know 
myself, and acquit or condemn myself. 

But if that knowledge whereby man knows him- 
self is mysterious, then certainly that whereby God 
knows him is far more so. That act whereby anoth- 
er being knows my secret thoughts, and inmost feel- 
ings, is most certainly inexplicable. That cognition 
whereby another person understands what takes 

3* 



46 god's exhaustive knowledge of man. 



place in fclie corners of my heart, and sees the mi- 
nutest movements of my spirit, is surely high; most 
surely I cannot attain unto it. 

And yet, it is a truth of revelation that God 
searches the heart of man; that He knows his down- 
sitting and uprising, and understands his thought 
afar off ; that He compasses his path and his lying- 
down, and is acquainted with all his ways. And 
yet, it is a deduction of reason, also, that because 
God is the creator of the human mind. He must per- 
fectly understand its secret agencies ; that He in 
whose Essence man lives and moves and has his 
being, must behold every motion, and feel every 
stirring of the human spirit. u He that planted 
the ear, shall He Rot hear ? He that formed the eye. 
shall He not see V Let us, then, ponder the fact of 
God's exhaustive knowledge of man's soul, that we 
may realize it, and thereby come under its solemn 
power and impression. For all religion, all holy 
and reverential fear of God, rises and sets, as in an 
atmosphere, b\ the thought: "Thou God seest 
me." 

I. In analy sing and estimating the Divine knowl- 
edge of the human soul, we find, in the first place, 
that God accurately and exhaustively knows all 
that man knows of himself. 

Every man in a Christian land, who is in the 
habit of frequenting the house of God, possesses 
more or less of that self-knowledge of which we 
have spoken. He thinks of the moral character of 



god's exhaustive knowledge of man. 47 



some of his own thoughts. He reflects upon the 
moral quality of some of his own feelings. He 
considers the ultimate tendency of some of his own 
actions. In other words, there is a part of his in- 
ward and his outward life with which he is uncom- 
monly well acquainted ; of which he has a distinct 
perception. There are some thoughts of his mind, 
at which he blushes at the very time of their origin, 
because he is vividly aware what they are, and 
what they mean. There are some emotions of his 
heart, at which he trembles and recoils at the very 
moment of their uprising, because he perceives 
clearly that they involve a very malignant deprav- 
ity. There are some actings of his will, of whose 
wickedness he is painfully conscious at the very 
instant of their rush and movement. We are not 
called upon, here, to say how many of a man's 
thoughts, feelings, and determinations, are thus sub- 
jected to his self-inspection at the very time of their 
origin, and are known in the clear light of self- 
knowledge. We are not concerned, at this point, 
with the amount of this man's self-inspection and 
self-knowledge. We are only saying that there 
is some experience such as this in his personal 
history, and that he does know something of him- 
self, at the very time of action, with a clearness 
and a distinctness that makes him start, or blush, 
or fear. 

Now we say, that in reference to all this intimate 
self-knowledge, all this best part of a man's infor- 



48 GOD'S EXHAUSTIVE KNOWLEDGE OF MAJS". 



! mation respecting himself, he is not superior to God. 
He may be certain that in no particular does he 
know more of himself than the Searcher of hearts 
knows. He may be an uncommonly thoughtful 
person, and little of what is done within his soul 
may escape his notice, — nay, we will make the ex- 
treme supposition that he arrests every thought as 
it rises, and looks at it, that he analyzes every sen- 
timent as it swells his heart, that he scrutinizes 
every purpose as it determines his will, — even if he 
should have such a thorough and profound self- 
knowledge as this, God knows him equally pro- 
foundly, and equally thoroughly. Nay more, this 
process of self-inspection may go on indefinitely, 
and the man may grow more and more thoughtful, 
and obtain an everlastingly au2rmentin<y knowledge 
of what he is and what he does, so that it shall seem 
to him that he is going down so far along that path 
which the vulture's eye hath not seen, is penetrating 
so deeply into those dim and shadowy regions of 
consciousness where the external life takes its very 
first start, as to be beyond the reach of any eye, and 
the ken of any intelligence but his own, and then 
he may be sure that God understands the thought 
that is afar off, and deep down, and that at this 
lowest range and plane in his experience He besets 
him behind and before. 

Or, this man, like the most of mankind, may be 
an unreflecting person. Then, in this case, thoughts, 
feelings, and purposes are continually rising up 



GOD S EXHAUSTIVE KNOWLEDGE OE MAN. 49 



within his soul like the clouds and exhalations of 

an evaporating deluge, and at the time of their rise 

he subjects them to no scrutiny of conscience, and 

is not pained in the least by their moral character 

and significance. He lacks self-knowledge altogeth- 
er o o 

er, at these points in his history. But, notice that 
the fact that he is not self-inspecting at these points 
cannot destroy the fact that he is acting at them. 
The fact that he is not a spectator of his own trans- 
gression, does not alter the fact that he is the au- 
thor of it. If this man, for instance, thinks over 
his worldly affairs on God's holy day, and perhaps 
in God's holy house, with such an absorption and 
such a pleasure that he entirely drowns the voice 
of conscience while he is so doing, and self-inspec- 
tion is banished for the time, it will not do for him 
to plead this absence of a distinct and painful con- 
sciousness of what his mind was actually doing in 
the house of God, and upon the Lord's day, as the 
palliative and excuse of his wrong thoughts. If 
this man, again, indulges in an envious or a sensual 
emotion, with such an energy and entireness, as for 
the time being to preclude all action of the higher 
powers of reason and self-reflection, so that for the 
time being he is not in the least troubled by a sense 
of his wickedness, it will be no excuse for him at 
the eternal bar, that he was not thinking of his envy 
or his lust at the time when he felt it. And there- 
fore it is, that accountableness covers the whole 
field of human agency, and God holds us responsi- 



50 god's exhaustive knowledge of man. 



ble for our thoughtless sin, as well as for our delib- 
erate transgression. 

o 

In the instance, then, of the thoughtless man ; in 
the case where there is little or no self-examination ; 
God unquestionably knows the man as well as the 
man knows himself. The Omniscient One is cer- 
tainly possessed of an amount of knowledge equal 
to that small modicum which is all that a rational 
and immortal soul can boast of in reference to itself. 
But the vast majority of mankind fall into this class. 
The self-examiners are very few, in comparison with 
the millions who possess the power to look into 
their hearts, but who rarely or never do so. The 
great God our Judge, then, surely knows the mass 
of men, in their down-sitting and uprising, with a 
knowledge that is equal to their own. And thus 
do we establish our first position, that God knows 
all that the man knows; God's knowledge is equal 
to the very best part of man's knowledge. 

In concluding this part of the discussion, we turn 
to consider some practical lessons suggested by it. 

1. In the first place, the subject reminds us that we 
are fearfully and wonderfully made. When we take 
a solar microscope and examine even the common- 
est object — a bit of sand, or a hair of our heads — 
we are amazed at the revelation that is made to us, 
We had no previous conception of the wonders that 
are contained in the structure of even such ordinary 
things as these. But, if we should obtain a corre- 
sponding view of our own mental and moral struc- 



god's exhaustive knowledge of man. 51 



ture ; if we could subject our immortal natures to a 
microscopic self-examination ; we should not only 
be surprised, but we should be terrified. This ex- 
plains, in part, the consternation with which a crim- 
inal is filled, as soon as he begins to understand the 
nature of his crime. His wicked act is perceived 
in its relation to his own mental powers and facul- 
ties. He knows, now, what a hazardous thing it is 
to possess a free-will; what an awful thing it is to 
own a conscience. He feels, as he never did before, 
that he is fearfully and wonderfully made, and 
cries out : " Oh that I had never been born ! Oh that 
I had never been created a responsible being ! these 
terrible faculties of reason, and will, and conscience, 
are too heavy for me to wield ; would that I had 
been created a worm, and no man, then, I should 
not have incurred the hazards under which I have 
sinned and ruined myself."' 

The constitution of the human soul is indeed a 
wonderful one; and such a meditation as that 
which we have just devoted to its functions of self- 
examination and memory, brief though it be, is 
enough to convince us of it. And remember, that 
this constitution is not peculiar to you and to me. 
It belongs to every human creature on the globe. 
The imbruted pagan in the fiery centre of Africa, 
who never saw a Bible, or heard of the Redeemer ; 
the equally imbruted man, woman, or child, who 
dwells in the slime of our own civilization, not a 
mile from where we sit, and hear the tidings of 



52 GOD'S EXHAUSTIVE KNOWLEDGE OF MA3S". 



mercy ; the filthy savage, and the yet filthier prof- 
ligate, are both of them alike with ourselves pos- 
sessed of these awful powers of self-knowledge and 
of memory. 

Think of this, ye earnest and faithful laborers in 
the vineyard of the Lord. There is not a child that 
you allure into your Sabbath Schools, and your 
Mission Schools, that is not fearfully and wonder- 
fully made ; and whose marvellous powers you are 
doing much to render to their possessor a blessing, 
instead of a curse. When Sir Humphry Davy, 
in answer to an inquiry that had been made of him 
respecting the number and series of his discoveries 
in chemistry, had gone through with the list, he 
added : " But the greatest of my discoveries is 
Michael Faraday." This Michael Faraday was a 
poor boy employed in the menial services of the 
laboratory where Davy made those wonderful dis- 
coveries by which he revolutionized the science of 
chemistry, and whose chemical genius he detected, 
elicited, and encouraged, until he finally took the 
place of his teacher and patron, and acquired a 
name that is now one of the influences of England. 
Well might he say: " My greatest discovery was 
when I detected the wonderful powers of Michael 
Faraday." And never will you make a greater and 
more beneficent discoA^ery, than when, under the 
thick scurf of pauperism and vice, you detect the 
human soul that is fearfully and wonderfully made ; 
than when you elicit its pow T ers of self-consciousness 



god's exhaustive knowledge or max. 53 



and of memory, and, instrumentally, dedicate fchem 
to the service of Christ and the Church. 

2. In the second place, we see from the subject, 
that thoughtlessness in sin will never excuse sin. 
There are degrees in sin. A deliberate, self-con- 
scions act of sin is the most intense form of moral 
evil. AVhen a man has an active conscience ; when 
he distinctly thinks over the nature of the trans- 
gression which he is tempted to commit ; when he 
sees clearly that it is a direct violation of a com- 
mand of God which he is about to eno\aee in ; when 
lie says, "I know that this is positivelv forbidden 
by my Maker and Judge, but I will do it," — we 
have an instance of the most heaven-daring sin. 
This is deliberate and wilful transgression. The 
servant knows his lord's will and does it not, and 
he shall be beaten with " many stripes,'' says 
Christ. 

But, such sin as this is not the usual form. Most 
of human transgressions are not accompanied with 
such a distinct apprehension, and such a deliberate 
determination. The sin of ignorance and thought- 
lessness is the species which is most common. Men, 
generally, do not 4irst think of what they are about 
to do, and then proceed to do it ; but they first pro- 
ceed to do it, and then think nothing at all about it. 

But, thoughtlessness will not excuse sin ; though 
it is a somewhat less extreme form of it, than de- 
liberate transgression. Under the Levitical law, 
the sin of ignorance, as it was called, was to be ex- 



54 god's exhaustive knowledge of man. 



piated by a somewhat different sacrifice from that 
offered for the wilful and deliberate sin ; but it 
must be expiated. A victim must be offered for it. 
It was guilt before God, and needed atonement. 
Our Lord, in His prayer for His murderers, said, 
" Father forgive them, for they know not what they 
do." The act of crucifying the Lord of glory was 
certainly a sin, aud one of an awful nature. But 
the authors of it were not fully aware of its import. 
They did not understand the dreadful significance 
of the crucifixion of the Son of God, as we now un- 
derstand it, in the light of eighteen centuries. Our 
Lord alludes to this, as a species of mitigation ; 
while yet He teaches, by the very prayer which He 
puts up for them, that this ignorance did not ex- 
cuse His murderers. He asks that they may be 
'forgiven. But where there is absolutely no sin 
there is no need of forgiveness. It is one of our 
Lord's assertions, that it will be more tolerable for 
Sodom and Gomorrah, in the day of judgment, than 
it will be for those inhabitants of Palestine who 
would not hear the words of His apostles, — because 
the sin of the former was less deliberate and wilful 
than that of the latter. But He would not have us 
infer from this, that Sodom and Gomorrah are not 
to be punished for sin. And, finally, He sums up 
the whole doctrine upon this point, in the declara- 
tion, that " he who knew his master's will and did 
it not shall be beaten with many stripes ; but he 
who knew not his masters will and did it not shall 



god's exhaustive knowledge of man. 55 



be beaten with few stripes." The sin of thoughtless- 
ness shall be beaten with fewer stripes than the 
sin of deliberation, — but it shall be beaten, and 
therefore it is sin. 

The almost universal indifference and thought- 
lessness with which men live on in a worldly and 
selfish life, will not excuse them in the day of ac- 
curate accounts. And the reason is, that they are 
capable of thinking upon the law of God ; of think- 
ing upon their duties ; of thinking upon their sins. 
They possess the wonderful faculties of self-inspec- 
tion and memory, and therefore they are capable of 
bringing their actions into light. It is the com- 
mand of God to every man, and to every rational 
spirit everywhere, to walk in the light, and to be a 
child of the ligdit. We ous;ht to examine ourselves ; 
to understand our ruling motives and abiding pur- 
poses; to scrutinize our feelings and conduct. But 
if we do little or nothing of this, we must not ex- 
pect that in the day of judgment we can plead our 
thoughtless ignorance of what we were, and what 
we did, here upon earth, as an excuse for our dis- 
obedience. God expects, and demands, that every 
one of His rational creatures should be all that he 
is capable of being. He gave man wonderful fac- 
ulties and endowments, — ten talents, five talents, 
two talents, — and He will require the whole origi- 
nal sum given, together with a faithful use and im- 
provement of it. The very thoughtlessness then, 
particularly under the Gospel dispensation, — the 



56 god's exhaustive knowledge of man. 



very neglect and non-use of the power of self- 
inspection, — will go in to constitute a part of the 
sin that will be punished. Instead of being an 
excuse, it will be an element of the condemnation 
itself. 

3. In the third place, even the sinner himself 

ought to rejoice in the fact that God is the Searcher 
of the heart. It is instinctive and natural, that a 
transgressor should attempt to conceal his charac- 
ter from his Maker ; but next to his sin itself, it 
would be the greatest injury that he could do to 
himself, should he succeed in his attempt. Even 
after the commission of sin, there is every reason for 
desiring that God should compass our path and 
lying down, and be acquainted with all our ways. 
For, He is the only being who can forgive sin ; the 
only one who can renew and sanctify the heart. 
There is the same motive for having the disease of 
the soul understood by God, that there is for hav- 
ing the disease of the body examined by a skilful 
physician. Nothing is gained, but every thing is 
lost, by ignorance. 

The sinner, therefore, has the strongest of motives 
for rejoicing in the truth that God sees him. It 
ought not to be an unwelcome fact even to him. 
For how can his sin be pardoned, unless it is clear 
ly understood by the pardoning power? How 
can his soul be purified from its inward cor- 
ruption, unless it is searched by the Spirit of all 
holiness \ 



god's exhaustive knowledge of man. 57 



Instead, therefore, of being repelled by such a 
solemn truth as that which we have been discussing, 
even the natural man should be allured by it. For 
it teaches him that there is help for him in God. 
His own knowledge of his own heart, as we have 
seen, is very imperfect and very inadequate. But 
the Divine knowledge is thoroughly adequate. He 
may, therefore, devolve his case with confidence 
upon the unerring One. Let him take words upon 
his lips, and cry unto Him: "Search me, O God, 
and try me ; and see what evil ways there are in 
me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Let him 
endeavor to come into possession of the Divine 
knowledge. There is no presumption in this. God 
desires that he should know himself as He knows 
him ; that he should get possession of His views 
upon this point ; that he should see himself as He 
sees him. One of the principal sins which God has 
to charge upon the sinner is, that his apprehensions 
respecting his own character are in conflict with the 
Divine. Nothing would more certainly meet the 
approbation of God, than a renunciation of human 
estimates of human nature, and the adoption of 
those contained in the inspired word. Endeavor, 
therefore, to obtain the verv same knowledge of 
your heart which God Himself possesses. And in 
this endeavor, He will assist you. The influences 
of the Holy Spirit to enlighten are most positively 
promised and proffered. Therefore be not repelled 
by the truth ; but be drawn by it to a deeper, 



58 god's exhaustive knowledge of man. 



truer knowledge of your heart. Lift up your soul 
in prayer, and beseech God to impart to you a pro- 
found knowledge of yourself, and then to sprinkle 
all your discovered guilt, and all your undiscovered 
guilt, with atoning blood. This is salvation / first 
to know yourself, and then to know Christ as your 
Prophet, Priest, and King. 



GOD'S EXHAUSTIVE KNOWLEDGE OF MAN. 



Psalm cxxxix. 1-6. — " Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou 
kriowest my down-sitting and mine uprising; thou understandest my 
thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art 
acquainted with all my ways. Eor there is not a word in my tongue, but 
lo, Lord, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and 
before, and laid thy hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful 
for me ; it is high, T cannot attain unto it." 



In the preceding discourse upon this text, we di- 
rected attention to the fact that man is possessed of 
the power of self-knowledge, and that he cannot 
ultimately escape from using it. He cannot forever 
flee from his own presence ; he cannot, through all 
eternity, go away from his own spirit. If he take 
the wings of the morning and dwell in the utter- 
most parts of the earth, he must, sooner or later, 
know himself, and acquit or condemn himself. 

Our attention was then directed to the fact, that 
God's knowledge of man is certainly equal to man's 
knowledge of himself. No man knows more of his 
own heart than the Searcher of hearts knows. Up 
to this point, certainly, the truth of the text is in- 
controvertible. God knows all that man knows. . 

II. We come now to the second position : That 



60 god's exhaustive knowledge of man. 



God accurately and exhaustively hnoivs all that man 
might, but does not, hnoiv of himself. 

Although the Creator designed that every man 
should thoroughly understand his own heart, and 
gave him the power of self-inspection that he might 
use it faithfully, and apply it constantly, yet man is 
^extremely ignorant of himself. Mankind, says an 
old writer, are nowhere less at home, than at home. 
Very few persons practise serious self-examination 
at all ; and none employ the power of self-inspec- 
tion with that carefulness and sedulitv with which 
they ought. Hence men generally, and unrenewed 
men always, are unacquainted with much that goes 
on within their own minds and hearts. Though it 
is sin and self-will, though it is thought and feeling 
and purpose and desire, that is going on and taking 
place during all these years of religious indifference, 
yet the agent himself, so far as a sober reflection 
upon the moral character of the process, and a dis- 
tinct perception of the dreadful issue of it, are con- 
cerned, is much of the time as destitute of self- 
knowledge as an irrational brute itself. For, were 
sinful men constantly self-examining, they would be 
constantly in torment. Men can be happy in sin, only 
so long as they can sin without thinking of it. The 
instant they begin to perceive and understand ivhat 
they are doing, they begin to feel the fang of the 
worm. If the frivolous wicked world, which now 
takes so much pleasure in its wickedness, could be 
forced to do here what it will be forced to do here- 



god's exhaustive knowledge of man. 61 



after, namely, to eye its sin while it commits it, to 
think of what it is doing while it does it, the bil- 
lows of the lake of fire would roll in upon time, and 
from gay Paris and luxurious Vienna there would 
instantaneously ascend the wailing cry of Pande- 
monium. 

But it is not so at present. Men here upon earth 
are continually thinking sinful thoughts and cher- 
ishing sinful feelings, and yet they are not contin- 
ually in hell. On the contrary, " they are not in 
trouble as other men are, neither are they plagued 
like other men. Their eyes stand out with fatness ; 
they have more than heart could wish." This 
proves that they are self-ignorant ; that they know 
neither their sin nor its bitter end. They sin with- 
out the consciousness of sin, and hence are happy in 
it. Is it not so in our own personal experience \ 
Have there not been in the past ten years of our 
own mental history long trains of thought, — sinful 
thought, — and vast processions of feelings and im- 
aginings, — sinful feelings and imaginings, — that 
have trailed over the spaces of the soul, but which 
have been as unwatched and unseen by the self-in- 
specting eye of conscience, as the caravans of the 
African desert have been, during the same period, 
by the eye of our sense % We have not felt a pang 
of guilt every single time that we have a thought 
a wrong thought ; yet we should have felt one inev- 
itably, had we scrutinized every such single thought. 
Our face has not flushed with crimson in every par- 

4 



62 god's exhaustive knowledge of mm. 



ticular instance in which we have exercised a lustful 
emotion; yet it would have done so had we care- 
fully noted every such emotion. A distinct self- 
knowledge has by no means run parallel with all 
our sinful activity; has by no means been co-exten- 
sive with it. We perform vastly more than we in- 
spect. We have sinned vastly more than we have 
been aware of at the time. 

Even the Christian, in whom this unreflecting spe- 
cies of life and conduct has given way, somewhat, 
to a thoughtful and vigilant life, knows and acknowl- 
edges that perfection is not yet come. As he casts 
his eye over even his regenerate and illuminated 
life, and sees what a small amount of sin has been 
distinctly detected, keenly felt, and heartily con- 
fessed, in comparison with that large amount of sin 
which he knows he must have committed, during 
this long period of incessant action of mind, heart, 
and limbs, he finds no repose for his misgivings 
with respect to the final examination and account, 
except by enveloping himself yet more' entirely in 
the ample folds of his Redeemer's righteousness ; 
except by hiding himself yet more profoundly in the 
cleft of that Rock of Ages which protects the chief 
of sinners from the unsufferable splendors and terrors 
of the Divine glory and holiness as it passes by. 
Even the Christian knows that he must have com- 
mitted many sins in thoughtless moments and 
hours, — many sins of which he was not deliberately 
thinking at the time of their commission, — and 



god's exhaustive knowledge of max. 



must pray with David, " Cleanse thou me from se- 
cret faults." The functions and operations of mem- 
ory evince that such is the case. Are we not some- 
times, in our serious hours when memory is busy, 
convinced of sins which, at the time of their com- 
mission, were wholly unaccompanied with a sense of 
their sinfulness ? The act in this instance was per- 
formed blindly, without self-inspection, and there- 
fore without self-conviction. Ten years, we will 
say, have intervened, — years of new activity, and 
immensely varied experiences. And now the magic 
power of recollection sets us back, once more, at 
that point of responsible action, and bids do what 
we did not do at the time, — analyze our performance 
and feel consciously guilty, experience the first sensa- 
tion of remorse, for what we did ten years - ago. 
Have we not, sometimes, been vividly reminded 
that upon such an occasion, and at such a time, we 
were angry, or proud, but at the time when the 
emotion was swelling our veins were not filled with 
that clear and painful sense of its turpitude which 
now attends the recollection of it ? The re-exhibi- 
tion of an action in memory, as in a mirror, is often 
accompanied with a distinct apprehension of its 
moral character that formed no part of the expe- 
rience of the a^ent while absorbed in the hot and 
hasty original action itself. And when we remem- 
ber how immense are the stores of memory, and 
what an amount of sin has been committed in hours 
of thoughtlessness and moral indifference, what 




64 god's exhaustive knowledge of man. 



prayer is more natural and warm than the supplica- 
tion : " Search me O God, and try me, and see what 
evil ways there are within me, and lead me in the 
way everlasting." 

But the careless, unenlightened man, as we have 
before remarked, leads a life almost entirely desti- 
tute of self-inspection, and self-knowledge. He sins 
constantly. He does only evil, and that continually, 
as did man before the deluge. For he is constantly 
acting. A living: self-moving soul, like his, cannot 
cease action if it would. And yet the current is 
all one way. Day after day sends up its clouds of 
I sensual, worldly, selfish thoughts. Week after week 
pours onward its stream of low-born, corrupt, un- 
spiritual feelings. Year after year accumulates that 
hardening mass of carnal-mindedness, and distaste 
for religion, which is sometimes a more insuperable 
obstacle to the truth, than positive faults and vices 
which startle and shock the conscience. And yet 
the man tliiiiks nothing about all this action of his 
mind and heart. He does not subject it to any self- 
inspection. If he should, for but a single hour, be 
lifted up to the eminence from which all this cur- 
rent of self-will, and moral agency, may be seen and 
surveyed in its real character and significance, he 
would start back as if brought to the brink of hell. 
But he is not thus lifted up. He continues to use 
and abuse his mental and his moral faculties, but, 
for most of his probation, with all the blindness and 
heedlessness of a mere animal instinct. 



god's exhaustive knowledge of max 65 

There is, then, a vast amount of sin committed 
without self-inspection ; and, consequently, without 
any distinct perception, at the time, that it is sin. 
The Christian will find himself feeling guilty, for 
the first time, for a transgression that occurred far 
back in the past, and will need a fresh application 
of atoning blood. The sinner will find, at some pe- 
riod or other, that remorse is fastening its tooth in 
his conscience for a vast amount of sinful thought, 
feeling, desire, and motive, that took origin in the 
unembarrassed davs of religious thoughtlessness and 
worldly enjoyment. 

For, think you that the insensible sinner is always 
to be thus insensible, — that this power of self-in- 
spection is eternally to " rust unused ?" What a 
tremendous revelation will one day be made to an 
unreflecting transgressor, simply because he is a man 
and not a brute, has lived a human life, and is en- 
dowed with the power of self-knowledge, whether 
he has used it or not ! What a terrific vision it will 
be for him, when the limitless line of his sins which 
he has not yet distinctly examined, and thought of, 
and repented of, shall be made to pass in slow pro- 
cession before that inward eye which he has wicked- 
ly kept shut so long ! Tell us not of the disclosures 
that shall be made when the sea shall give up the 
dead that are in it, and the graves shall open and 
surrender their dead ; what are these material dis- 
closures, when compared with the revelations of self- 
knowledge ! What is all this external display, 



66 god's exhaustive knowledge of man. 



sombre and terrible as it will be to the outward eye, 
when compared with all that internal revealing 
that will be made to a hitherto thoughtless soul, 
when, of a sudden, in the day of judgment, its deep- 
est caverns shall heave in unison with the material 
convulsions of the day, and shall send forth to judg- 
ment their long slumbering, and hidden iniquity ; 
when the sepulchres of its own memory shall burst 
open, and give up the sin that has long lain buried 
there, in needless and guilty forgetfulness, awaiting 
this second resurrection ! 

For (to come back to the unfolding of the sub- 
ject, and the movement of the argument), God per- 
fectly knows all that man might, but does not, know 
of himself. Though the transgressor is ignorant of 

o o o 

much of his sin, because at the time of its commis- 
sion he sins blindly as well as wilfully, and unre- 
flectingly as well as freely ; and though the trans- 
gressor has forgotten much of that small amount of 
sin of which he was conscious, and by which he was 
pained, at the time of its perpetration ; though on the 
side of man the powers of self-inspection and mem- 
ory have accomplished so little towards the preser- 
vation of man's sin, yet Grod knows it all, and re- 
members it all. He compassetk man's path, and his 
lying-down, and is acquainted with all his ways. 
" There is nothing covered, therefore, that shall not 
be revealed, neither hid that shall not be known. 
Whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be 
heard in the light ; and that which ye have spoken 



god's exhaustive knowledge of max. G7 



in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the 
house-tops." The Creator of the human mind has 
control over its powers of self-inspection, and of 
memory ; and when the proper time comes He will 
compel these endowments to perform their legiti- 
mate functions, and do their appointed work. The 
torturing self-survey will begin, never more to end. 
The awful recollection will commence,- endlessly to 
go on. 

One principal reason why the Biblical represen- 
tations of human sinfulness exert so little influence 
over men, and, generally speaking, seem to them to 
be greatly exaggerated and untrue, lies in the fact 
that the Divine knowledge of human character is 
in advance of the human knowledge. God's con- 
sciousness and cognition upon this subject is ex- 
haustive ; while man's self-knowledge is superficial 
and shallow. The two forms of knowledge, conse- 
quently, when placed side by side, do not agree, but 
conflict. There would be less difficulty, and less 
contradiction, if mankind generally were possessed 
of even as much self-knowledge as the Christian is 
possessed of. There would be no difficulty, and 
no contradiction, if the knowledge of the judgment- 
day could be anticipated, and the self-inspection of 
that occasion could commence here and now\ But 
such is not the fact. The Bible labors, therefore, 
under the difficulty of possessing an advanced knowl- 
edge ; the difficulty of being addressed to a 
mind that is almost entirely unacquainted with the 



68 god's exhaustive knowledge of man. 



subject treated of. The Word of God knows man 
| exhaustively, as God knows him ; and hence all its 
descriptions of human character are founded upon 
such a knowledge. But man, in his self-ignorance, 
does not perceive their awful truth. He has not 
yet attained the internal correspondent to the Bibli- 
cal statement, — that apprehension of total depravity, 
that knowledge of the plague of the heart, which 
always and ever says "yea" to the most vivid descrip- 
tion of human sinfulness, and " amen" to God's 
heaviest malediction upon it. Nothing deprives the 
Word of its nerve and influence, more than this gen- 
eral lack of self-inspection and self-knowledge. For, 
only that which is perceived to be true exerts an 
influence upon the human mind. The doctrine of 
human sinfulness is preached to men, year after 
year, to whom it does not come home with the dem- 
onstration of the Spirit and with power, because 
the sinfulness which is really within them is as yet 
unknown, and because not one of a thousand of 
their transgressions has ever been scanned in the 
light of self-examination. But is the Bible untrue, 
because the man is ignorant? Is the sun black, be- 
\ cause the eye is shut ? 

However ignorant man may be, and may desire 
and strive to be, of himself, God knows him altogeth- 
er, and knows that the rej)resentations of His word, 
respecting the character and necessities of human 
nature, are the unexaggerated, sober, and actual 
fact. Though most of the sinner's life of alienation 



god's exhaustive kxowledge of max. 60 



from God, and of disobedience, has been a blind 
and a reckless agency, unaccompanied with self- 
scrutiny, and to a great extent passed from his mem- 
ory, yet it has all of it been looked at, as it "Welled 
up from the living centres of free agency and re- 
sponsibility, by the calm and dreadful eye of retrib- 
utive Justice, and has all of it been indelibly writ- 
ten down in the book of God's sure memory, with 
a pen of iron, and the point of a diamond. 

And here, let us for a moment look upon the 
bright, as well as the dark side of this subject. For 
if God's exhaustive knowledge of the human heart 
waken dread in one of its aspects, it starts infinite 
hope in another. If that Being has gone down into 
these depths of human depravity, and seen it with 
a more abhorring glance than could ever shoot 
from a finite eye, and yet has returned with a cor- 
dial offer to forgive it all, and a hearty proffer to 
cleanse it all away, then we can lift up the eye in 
adoration and in hope. There has been an infinite 
forbearance and condescension. The worst has 
been seen, aud that too by the holiest of Beings, 
and yet eternal glory is offered to us ! God knows, 
from personal examination, the worthlessness of 
human character, with a thoroughness and intensity 
of knowledge of which man has no conception ; and 
yet, in the light of this knowledge, in the very flame 
of this intuition, He has devised a plan of mercy 
and redemption. Do not think, then, because* of 
your present ignorance of your guilt and corruption, 

4* 



<T0 god's exhaustive knowledge of mads*. 



that the incarnation and death of the Son of God 
was unnecessary, and that that costly blood of 
atonement which you are treading under foot wet 
the rocks of Calvary for a peccadillo. Could you, 
but for a moment only, know yourself altogether 
and exhaustively, as the Author of this Redemption 
knows you, you would cry out, in the words of a 
far holier man than you are, " I am undone.'' If 
you could but see guilt as God sees it, you would 
also see with Him that nothing but an infinite Pas- 
sion can expiate it. If you could but fathom the 
human heart as God fathoms it, you would know 
as He knows, that nothing less than regeneration 
can purify its fountains of uncleanness, and cleanse 
it from its ingrain corruption. 

Thus have we seen that God knows man alto- 
gether, — that He knows all that man knows of him- 
self, and all that man might but does not yet know 
of himself. The Searcher of hearts knows all the 
thoughts that we have thought upon, all the reflec- 
tions that we have reflected, upon, all the experience 
that we have ourselves analyzed and inspected. 
And He also knows that far larger part of our life 
which we have not yet subjected to the scrutiny of 
self-examination, — all those thoughts, feelings, de- 
sires, and motives, innumerable as they are, of which 
we took no heed at the time of their origin and ex- 
istence, and which we suppose, perhaps, we shall 
hear no more of again. Whither then shall we go 
from God's spirit \ or whither shall we flee from His 



god's exhaustive knowledge oe man. 71 

presence and His knowledge ? If we ascend up 
into heaven, He is there, and knows ns perfectly. 
If we make our bed in hell, behold Pie is there, and 
reads the secret thoughts and feelings of our heart. 
The darkness hideth not from Him ; our ignorance 
does not affect His knowledge ; the night shineth 
as the day ; the darkness and the light are both 
alike to Him. 

This great truth which we have been considering 
obtains a yet more serious emphasis, and a yet more 
solemn power over the mind, when we take into 
view the character of the Being who thus searches 
our hearts, and is acquainted with all our ways. 
Who of us would not be filled with uneasiness, if 
he knew that an imperfect fellow-creature were look- 
ing constantly into his soul ? Would not the flush 
of shame often burn upon our cheek, if we knew 
that a sinful man like ourselves were watching all 
the feelings and thoughts that are rising: within us ? 
Should we not be more circumspect than we are, 
if men were able mutually to search each other's 
hearts \ How often does a man change his course 
of conduct, when he discovers, accidentally, that his 
neighbor knows what he is doing. 

But it is not an imperfect fellow-man, it is not a 
perfect angel, who besets us behind and before, and 
is acquainted with all our ways. It is the immacu- 
late God himself. It is He before whom archangels 
veil their faces, and the burning seraphim cry, 
" Holy." It is He, in whose sight the pure cerulean 



72 god's exhaustive knowledge of man. 



heavens are not clean, and whose eyes are a flame 
of fire devouring all iniquity. We are beheld, in 
all this process of sin, be it blind or be it intelli- 
gent, by infinite Purity. We are not, therefore, to 
suppose that God contemplates this our life of sin 
with the dull indifference of an Epicurean deity ; 
that He looks into our souls, all this while, from 
mere curiosity, and with no moral emotion towards 
us. The God who knows us altogether is the 
Holy One of Israel, whose wrath is both real, and 
revealed, against all unrighteousness. 

If, therefore, we connect the holy nature and 
pure essence of God with all this unceasing and 
unerring inspection of the human soul, does not the 
truth wdiich we have been considering speak with 
a bolder emphasis, and acquire an additional power 
to impress and solemnize the mind? When we 
realize that the Being who is watching us at every 
instant, and in every act and element of our exist- 
ence, is the very same Being who revealed himself 
amidst the lightenings of Sinai as hating sin and 
not clearing the thoughtless guilty, do not our pros- 
pects at the bar of justice look dark and fearful ? 
For, who of the race of man is holy enough to stand 
such an inspection ? Who of the sons of men will 
prove pure in such a furnace ? 

Are we not, then, brought by this truth close up 
to the central doctrine of Christianity, and made to 
see our need of the atonement and righteousness of 
the Eedeemer ? How can we endure such a scru- 



god's exhaustive knowledge oe man. 73 



tiny as God is instituting into our character and 
conduct ? What can we say, in the day of reckon- 
ing, when the Searcher of hearts shall make known 
to us all that He knows of us ? What can we do, 
in that day which shall reveal the thoughts and 
the estimates of the Holy One respecting us ? 

It is perfectly plain, from the elevated central 
point of view where we now stand, and in the focal 
light in which we now see, that no man can be jus- 
tified before God upon the ground of personal char- 
acter; for that character, when subjected to God's 
exhaustive scrutiny, withers and shrinks away. A 
man may possibly be just before his neighbor, or 
his friend, or society, or human laws, but he is mis- 
erably self-deceived who supposes that his heart 
will appear righteous under such a scrutiny, and in 
such a Presence as we have been considering. 1 
However it may be before other tribunals, the apos- 
tle is correct when he asserts that " every mouth 
must be stopped, and the whole world plead guilty 

1 " It is easy," — says one of the before our eyes, not according to 
keenest and most incisive of the- the inadequate imaginations of 
ologians, — "for any one in the our minds, but according to 
cloisters of the schools to indulge the descriptions given of him in 
himself in idle speculations on the Scriptures, which represent 
the merit of works to justify men; him as one whose refulgence 
but when he comes into the pres- eclipses the stars, whose purity 
ence of God, he must bid farewell makes all things appear polluted, 
to these amusements, for there and who searches the inmost soul 
the business is transacted with of his creatures, — let us so con- 
seriousness. To this point must ceive of the Judge of all the earth, 
our attention be directed, if we and every one must present him- 
wish to make any useful inquiry self as a criminal before Him, an(J 
concerning true righteousness: voluntarily prostrate and humble 
How we can answer the celestial himself in deep solicitude .con,- 
Judge when he shall call us to an cerning his absolution." 
account? Let us place that Judge Calvin: Institutes, iii. 12. 



74 god's exhaustive knowledge of man. 



before God." Before tile Searcher of hearts, all 
mankind must appeal to mere and sovereign mercy. 
Justice, in this reference, is out of the question. 

Now, in this condition of things, God so loved 
the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that 
whosoever believeth in Him might not perish, but 
have everlasting life. The Divine mercy has been 
manifested in a mode that does not permit even the 
guiltiest to doubt its reality, its sufficiency, or its 
sincerity. The argument is this. " If when we 
were yet sinners," and known to be such, in the per- 
fect and exhaustive manner that has been described, 
" Christ died for us, much more, being now justified 
by His blood, shall we be saved from wrath through 
Him." Appropriating this atonement which the 
Searcher of hearts has Himself provided for this very 
exigency, and which He knows to be thoroughly 
adequate, no man, however guilty, need fear the 
most complete disclosures which the Divine Omnis- 
cience will have to make of human character in the 
day of doom. If the guilt is " infinite upon infinite," 
so is the sacrifice of the God-man. Who is he that 
condemneth ? it is the Son of God that died for sin. 
Who shall lay anything to God's elect ? it is God 
that justifietli. And as God shall, in the last day, 
summon up from the deep places of our souls all 
of our sins, and bring us to a strict account for every- 
thing, even to the idle words that we have spoken, 
we can look Him full in the eye, without a thought 
of fear, and with love unutterable, if we are really 



god's exhaustive knowledge of man. 75 



relying upon the atoning sacrifice of Christ for jus- 
tification. Even in that awful Presence, and under 
that Omniscient scrutiny, "there is no condemnation 
to them that are in Christ Jesus." 

The great lesson, then, taught by the text and 
its unfolding, is the importance of attaining self- 
knowledge here v/pon earth, and while there remaineth 
a sacrifice for sins. The duty and wisdom of every 
man is, to anticipate the revelations of the judgment 
day ; to find out the sin of his soul, while it is an 
accepted time and a day of salvation. For we have 
seen that this self-inspection cannot ultimately be 
escaped. Man was made to know himself, and he 
must sooner or later come to it. Self-knowledge is 
as certain, in the end, as death. The utmost that 
can be done, is to postpone it for a few days, or 
years. The article of death and the exchange of 
worlds will pour it all in, like a deluge, upon every 
man, whether he will or not. And he who does 
not wake up to a knowledge of his heart, until he 
enters eternhty, wakes up not to pardon but to 
despair. 

The simple question, then, which meets us is : 
"Wilt thou know thyself here and noio, that thou 
mayest accept and feel God's pity in Christ's blood, 
or wilt thou keep within the screen, and not know 
thyself until beyond the grave, and then feel God's 
judicial wrath ? The self-knowledge, remember, 
must come in the one way or the other. It is a simple 
question of time ; a simple question whether it shall 



76 god's exhaustive knowledge of man. 

come here in this world, where the blood of Christ 
" freely flows/' or in the future world, where " there 
remaineth no more sacrifice for sin." Turn the mat- 
ter as we will, this is the sum and substance, — a 
sinful man must either come to a thorough self- 
knowledge, with a hearty repentance and a joyful 
pardon, in this life ; or he must come to a thorough 
self-knowledge, with a total despair and an eternal 
damnation, in the other. God is not mocked. God's 
great pity in the blood of Christ must not be trifled 
with. He who refuses, or neglects, to institute that 
self-examination which leads to the sense of sin, 
and the felt need of Christ's work, by this very fact 
proves that he does not desire to know his own 
heart, and that he has no wish to repent of sin. 
But he who will not even look at his sin, — what 
does not he deserve from that Being who poured 
out His own blood for it % He who refuses even to 
open his eyes upon that bleeding Lamb of God,— 
what must not he expect from the Lion of the tribe 
of Judah, in the day of judgment \ He who by a 
life of apathy, and indifference to sin, puts himself 
out of all relations to the Divine pity, — what must 
he experience in eternity, but the operations of stark, 
unmitigated law ? 

Find out your sin, then. God will forgive all that 
is found. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall 
be as white as snow. The great God delights to 
forgive, and is waiting to forgive. But, sin must 
he seen by the sinner, before it can be pardoned by 



god's exhaustive knowledge oe man. 77 

the Judge. If you refuse at this point ; if you hide 
yourself from yourself ; if you preclude all feeling 
and conviction upon the subject of sin, by remain- 
ing ignorant of it ; if you continue to live an easy, 
thoughtless life in sin, then you cannot be forgiven, 
and the measure of God's love with which He would 
have blessed you, had you searched yourself and 
repented, will be the measure of God's righteous 
wrath with which He will search you, and condemn 
you, because you have not. 



ALL MANKIND GUILTY; OR, EVERY MAN KNOWS MORE THAN 
HE PRACTISES. 



Roaiaxs i. 24. — " When they knew G-od, they glorified him not as Gk>d." 



The idea of God is the most important and com- 
prehensive of ail the ideas of which the human 
mind is possessed. It is the foundation of religion ; 
of all right doctrine, and all right conduct. A cor- 
rect intuition of it leads to correct religious theories 
and practice; while any erroneous or defective view 
of the Supreme Being will pervade the whole pro- 
vince of religion, and exert a most pernicious ■ in- 
fluence upon the entire character and conduct of 
men. 

In proof of this, we have only to turn to the open- 
ing chapters of St. Paul's Epistle to the Eomans. 
Here we find a profound and accurate account of 
the process by which human nature becomes corrupt, 
and runs its downward career of unbelief, vice, and 
sensuality. The apostle traces back the horrible 
depravity of the heathen world, which lie depicts 
with a pen as sharp as that of Juvenal, but with 
none of Juvenal's bitterness and vitriolic sarcasm. 



ALL MANKIND GUILTY. 



to a distorted and false conception of the being and 
attributes of God. He does not, for an instant, con- 
cede that this distorted and false conception is 
founded in the original structure and constitution of 
the human soul, and that this moral ignorance is 
necessary and inevitable. This mutilated idea of 
the Supreme Being was not inlaid in the rational 
creature on the morning of creation, when God said, 
" Let us make man in our imao'e, after our likeness." 
On the contrary, the apostle affirms that the Crea- 
tor originally gave all mankind, in the moral con- 
stitution of a rational soul and in the works of cre- 
ation and providence, the media to a correct idea of 
Himself, and asserts, by implication, that if they had 
always employed these media they would have 
always possessed this idea. " The wrath of God," 
. he says, " is revealed from heaven against all un- 
J godliness and unrighteousness of men who hold the 
truth in unrighteousness; because that which may 
T>e known of God is manifest in them, for God hath 
shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of 
him, even his eternal power and Godhead, are clear- 
ly seen from the creation of the world, being under- 
stood by the things that are made, so that they are 
without excuse ; became that when they knew God, 
they glorified him not as God" (Horn. i. 18-21). 
From this, it appears that the mind of man has not 
kept what was committed to its charge. It has not 
employed the moral instrumentalities, nor elicited 
the moral ideas, with which it has been furnished. 



80 



ALL MAJTXIjSTD GUILTY. 



And, notice that the apostle does not confine this 
statement to those who live within the pale of Rev- 
elation. His description is unlimited and universal. 
The affirmation of the text, that " when man knew 
God he glorified him not as God," applies to the 
Gentile as well as to the Jew. Nay, the primary 
reference of these statements was to the pagan 
world. It was respecting the millions of idolaters 
in cultivated Greece and Rome, and the millions of 
idolaters in barbarous India and China, — it was re- 
specting the whole world lying in wickedness, that 
St. Paul remarked : " The invisible things of - God, 
even his eternal power and Godhead, are clearly 
seen from the creation of the world clown to the 
present^ moment, being understood by the things 
that are made ; so that they are without excuse" 

When Napoleon was returning from his cam- 
paign in Egypt and Syria, he was seated one night 
upon the deck of the vessel, under the open canopy 
of the heavens, surrounded by his captains and gen- 
erals. The conversation had taken a skeptical direc- 
tion, and most of the party had combated the doc- 
trine of the Divine existence. Napoleon had sat 
silent and musing, apparently taking no interest in 
the discussion, when suddenly raising his hand, and 
pointing at the crystalline firmament crowded with 
its mildly shining planets and its keen glittering 
stars, he broke out, in those startling tones that so 
often electrified a million of men : " Gentlemen, who 
made all that \ " The eternal power and Godhead 



ALL MANKIND GUILTY. 



81 



of the Creator are impressed by the things that are 
made, and these words of Napoleon to his atheistic 
captains silenced them. And the same impression 
is made the world over. Go to-day into the heart 
of Africa, or into the centre of New Holland ; 
select the most imbruted pagan that can be found ; 
take him out under a clear star-lit heaven and ask 
him w T ho made all that, and the idea of a Superior 
Being, — superior to all his fetishes and idols, — pos- 
sessing eternal power and supremacy (Seiotyig), im- 
mediately emerges in his consciousness. The in- 
stant the missionary takes this lustful idolater away 
from the circle of his idols, and brings him face to 
face with the heavens and the earth, as Napoleon 
brought his captains, the constitutional idea dawns 
again, and the pagan trembles before the unseen 
Power. 1 

1 The early Fathers, in their who is regarded as the wisest 
defence of the Christian doctrine philosopher of them all, plainly 
of one God, against the objections and openly defends the doctrine 
of the pagan advocate of the pop- of a divine monarchy, and denom- 
nlar mythologies, contend that inates the Supreme Being, not 
the better pagan writers them- ether, nor reason, nor nature, 
selves agree with the new relig- but. as he is. God ; and asserts 
ion, in teaching that there is one that by him this perfect and ad- 
Supreme Being. Lactantius mirable world was made. And 
(Institutiones i. 5), after quoting Cicero follows Plato, frequently 
the Orphic poets, Hesiod, Virgil, confessing the Deity, and calls 
and Ovid, in proof that the him the Supreme Being, in his 
heathen poets taught the unity of treatise on the Laws," Tertl~l- 
the Supreme Deity, proceeds to liax (De Test. An. c. 1 : Adv. 
show that the better pagan phi- Marc. i. 10; Ad. Scap. c. 2; 
losophers, also, agree with them Apol. c. 17). than whom no one 
in this. "Aristotle," he says, of the Christian Fathers was 
"although he disagrees with more vehemently opposed to the 
himself, and says many things philosophizing of the schools, 
that are self-contradictory, yet earnestly contends that the dttc- 
testifies that one Supreme Mind trine of the unity of God is con- 
mks over the world. Plato, stitutionai to the human mind 



82 



ALL MANKIND GUILTY. 



But it will be objected that it is a very dim, and 
inadequate idea of the Deity that thus rises in the 
pagan's mind, and that therefore the apostle's affir- 
mation that he is a without excuse " for hemgr an 
idolater and a sensualist requires some qualification. 
This imbruted creature, says the objector, does not 
possess the metaphysical conception of God as a 



"God," he says, " proves himself 
to be God, and the one only God, 
by the very fact that He is known 
to agnations; for the existence 
of any other deity than He would, 
first have to be demonstrated. 
The God of the Jews is the one 
whom the souls of men call their 
God. We worship one God, the 
one whom ye all naturally know, 
at whose lightnings and thunders 
ye tremble, at whose benefits ye 
rejoice. Will ye that we prove 
the Divine existence by the wit- 
ness of the soul itself, which, al- 
though confined by the prison of 
the body, although circumscribed 
by bad training, although ener- 
vated by lusts and passions, al- 
though made the servant of false 
gods, yet when it recovers itself 
as from a surfeit, as from a slum- 
ber, as from some infirmity, and 
is in its proper condition of sound- 
ness, calls God by this name 
only, because it is the proper 
name of the true God. 'Great 
God,' 'good God,' and 1 God 
grant' [deus, not dii], are words 
in every mouth. The soul also 
witnesses that He is its judge, 
When it says, 1 God sees,' • I com- 
mend to God,' ' God shall recom- 
pense me.' O testimony of a soul 
naturally Christian [i. e., mono- 
theistic] ! Finally, in pronounc- 
ing these words, it looks not to 
the Roman capitol, but to heav- 
en; for it knows the dwelling- 
place of the true God : from Him 



and from thence it descended." 
Calvin (Inst. i. 10) seems to have 
had these statements in his eye, 
in the following remarks : "In 
almost all ages, religion has been 
generally corrupted. It is true, 
indeed, that the name of one Su- 
preme God has been universally 
known and celebrated. For those 
who used to worship a multitude 
of deities, whenever they spake 
according to the genuine sense of 
nature, used simply the name of 
God in the singular number, as 
though they were contented with 
one God. And this was wisely 
remarked by Justin Martyr, who 
for this purpose wrote a book 
' On the Monarchy of God,' in 
which he demonstrates, from nu- 
merous testimonies, that the uni- 
ty of God is a principle univer- 
sally impressed on the hearts of 
men. Tertullian (De Idol ol atria) 
also proves the same point, from 
the common phraseology. But 
since all men, without exception, 
have become vain in their under- 
standings, all their natural per- 
ception of the Divine Unity has 
only served to render them inex- 
cusable." In consonance with 
these views, the Presbyterian 
Confession of Faith (ch. i.) af- 
firms that " the light of nature, 
and the works of creation and 
providence, do so far manifest 
the goodness, wisdom, and power 
of God, as to leave men inexcusa- 
ble." 



ALL MANKIND GUILTY. 



83 



Spirit, and of all his various attributes and qualities, 
like the dweller in Christendom. How then can he 
be brought in guilty before the same eternal bar, 
and be condemned to the same eternal punishment, 
with the nominal Christian ? The answer is plain, 
and decisive, and derivable out of the apostle's own 
statements. In order to establish the guiltiness of 
a rational creature before the bar of justice, it is not 
necessary to show that he has lived in the seventh 
heavens, and under a blaze of moral intelligence 
like that of the archangel Gabriel. It is only nec- 
essary to show that he has enjoyed some degree 
of moral light, and that he has not lived up to it. 
Any creature who knows more than he practises is 
a guilty creature. If the light in the pagan's intel- 
lect concerning God and the moral law, small 
though it be, is yet actually in advance of the incli- 
nation and affections of his heart and the actions of his 
life, he deserves to be punished, like any and every 
other creature, under the Divine government, of 
whom the same thing is true. Grades of knowl- 
edge vary indefinitely. No two men upon the 
planet, no two men in Christendom, possess precise- 
ly the same degree of moral intelligence. There 
are men walking the streets of this city to-day, un- 
der the full light of the Christian revelation, whose 
notions respecting God and law are exceedingly 
dim and inadequate ; and there are others whose 
views are clear and correct in a hi<xh degree. But 
there is not a person in this city, young or old, rich 



84 



ALL MANKIND GUILTY. 



or poor, ignorant or cultivated, in the purlieus of 
vice or the saloons of wealth, whose knowledge of 
God is not in advance of his own character and 
conduct. Every man, whatever be the grade of 
his intelligence, knows more than he j)uts in prac- 
tice. Ask the young thief, in the subterranean 
haunts of vice and crime, if he does not know that 
it is wicked to steal, and if he renders an honest 
answer, it is in the affirmative. Ask the most be- 
sotted soul, immersed and petrified in sensuality, if 
his course of life upon earth has been in accordance 
with his own knowledge and conviction of what is 
right, and required by his Maker, and he will an- 
swer No, if he answers truly. The grade of knowl- 
edge in the Christian land is almost infinitely var- 
ious ; but in every instance the amount of knowledge 
is greater than the amount of virtue. Whether he 
knows little or much, the man knows more than he 
performs ; and therefore his mouth must be stopped 
in the judgment, and he must plead guilty before 
God. He will not be condemned for not possessing 
that ethereal vision of God possessed by the sera- 
phim ; but he will be condemned because his per- 
ception of the holiness and the holy requirements 
of God was sufficient, at any moment, to rebuke his 
disregard of them ; because when he knew God in 
some degree, he glorified him not as God up to that 
degree. 

And this principle will be applied to the pagan 
world. It is so applied by the apostle Paul. He 



ALL MANKIND GUILTY. 



85 



himself concedes that the Gentile has not enjoyed 
all the advantages of the Jew, and argues that the 
ungodly Jew will be visited with a more severe 
punishment than the ungodly Gentile. But he ex- 
pressly affirms that the pagan is under law, and 
knows that he is ; that he shows the work of the 
Jaw that is written on the heart, in the operations 
of an accusing and condemning conscience. But 
the knowledge of law involves the knowledge of 
God in an equal degree. TTho can feel himself 
amenable to a moral law, without at the same time 
thinking of its Author ? The law and the Lawgiver 
are inseparable. The one is the mirror and index of 
the other. If the eye opens dimly upon the command 
ment, it opens dimly upon the Sovereign ; if it per- 
ceives eternal right and law with clear and celestial 
vision, it then looks directly into the -face of God. 
Law and God are correlative to each other ; and just 
so far, consequently, as the heathen understands 
the law that is written on the heart does he appre- 
hend the Being who sitteth upon the circle of the 
heavens, and who impinges Himself upon the con- 
sciousness of men. This being so, it is plain that 
we can confront the ungodly pagan with the same 
statements with which we confront the ungodly 
nominal Christian. We can tell him with positive- 
ness, wherever we find him, be it upon the burning 
sands of Africa or in the frozen home of the Esqui- 
maux, that he knows more than he puts in practice/ 
We will concede to him that the quantum of his 

5 



86 



ALL MANKIND GUILTY 



moral knowledge is very stinted and meagre ; but 
in the same breath we will remind him that small 
as it is, he has not lived up to it ; that he too has 
" come short " ; that he too, knowing God in the 
dimmest, faintest degree, has yet not glorified him 
as God in the slightest, faintest manner. The Bible 
sends the ungodly and licentious pagan to hell, upon 
the same principle that it sends the ungodly and 
licentious nominal Christian. It is the principle 
enunciated by our Lord Christ, the judge of quick 
and dead, when he says, " He who knew his mas- 
ter's will [clearly], and did it not, shall be beaten 
with many stripes ; and he who knew not his mas- 
ter's will [clearly, but knew it dimly,] and did it 
not, shall be beaten with few stripes." It is the 
just principle enunciated by St. Paul, that " as 
many as have sinned without [written] law shall 
also perish without [written] law." 1 And this is 

1 The word arroAovvrai, in Rom. ion." If man had been true to 
ii. 12, is opposed to the curr/pia all the principles and precepts of 
spoken of in Rom. i. 16, and natural religion, it would indeed 
therefore signifies eternal perdi- be religion enough for him. Rnt 
tion, as that signifies eternal sal- he has not been thus true. The 
vation. — Those theorists who re- entire list of vices and sins recit- 
ject revealed religion, and remand ed by St. Paul, in the first chap- 
man back to the first principles ter of Romans, is as contrary to 
of ethics and morality as the only natural religion,- as it is to re- 
religion that he needs, send him vealed. And it is precisely be- 
to a tribunal that damns him. cau-e the pagan world lias not 
''Tell me," says St. Paul, " ye obeyed the principles of natural 
that desire to be under the law, religion, and is under a curse and 
do ye not hear the law ? Thelaw a bondage therefor, that it is in 
is not of faith, but the man that perishing need of the truths of re- 
doeth them shall live by them, vealed religion. Little do those 
Circumcision verily profiteth if know what they are saying, when 
thou keep the law; but if thou they propose to find a salvation 
be a breaker of the law, thy cir- for the pagan in the mere light 
cumcision is made uncircumcis- of natural reason and conscience. 



ALL MAXXLND GUILTY. 



87 



right and righteous ; and let all the universe say. 
Amen. 

The doctrine taught in the text, that no human 
creature, in any country or grade of civilization, has 
ever glorified God to the extent of his knowledge 
of God, is very fertile in solemn and startling infer- 
ences, to some of which we now invite attention. 

1. In the first place, it follows from this affirma- 
tion of the apostle Paul, that the entire Jieathm 
world is in a state of condemnation and perdition. 
He himself draws this inference, in saying that in 
the judgment " every mouth must be stopped, and 
the whole world become guilty before God. 1 ' 

The present and future condition of the heathen 
world is a subject that has always enlisted the in- 
terest of two very different classes of men. The 
Church of God has pondered, and labored, and 
prayed over this subject, and will continue to do so 
until the millennium. And the disbeliever in Reve- 
lation has also turned his mind to the consideration 
of this black mass of ignorance and misery, which 
welters upon the globe like a chaotic ocean ; these 
teeming millions of barbarians and savages who 



What pagan has ever realized the 
truths of natural conscience, in his 
inward character and his outward 
life ? What pagan is there in all 
the generations that will not he 
found guilty before the bar of 
natural religion? What heathen 
will not need an atonement, for 
his failure to live up even to the 
light of nature? Nay, what is 
the entire sacrificial cultus of 



heathenism, but a confession 
that the whole heathen world 
finds and feels itself to be guilty 
at the bar of natural reason and 
conscience ? The accusing voice 
within them wakes their forebod- 
ings and fearful looking-for of Di- 
vine judgment, and they endeav- 
or to propitiate the offended 
Power by their offerings and sac- 
rifices. 



88 



ALL MANKIND GUILTY. 



render the aspect of the world so sad and so dark. 
The Church, we need not say, have accepted the Bib- 
lical theory, and have traced the lost condition of the 
pagan world, as the apostle Paul does, to their sin and 
transgression. They have held that every pagan is 
a rational being, and by virtue of this fact has 
<j> .--vf known something of the moral law; and that to 
t • the extent of the knowledge he has had, he is as 
guilty for the transgression of law, and as really un- 
der its condemnation, as the dweller under the light 
of revelation and civilization. They have main- 
tained that every human creature has enjoyed suffi- 
cient light, in the workings of natural reason and 
conscience, and in the impressions that are made by 
the glory and the terror of the natural world above 
and around him, to render him guilty before the 
Everlasting Judge. For this reason, the Church 
has denied that the pagan is an innocent creature, 
or that he can stand in the judgment before the 
Searcher of hearts. For this reason, the Church 
has believed the declaration of the apostle John, 
that " the whole world lieth in wickedness " (1 John 
v. 19), and has endeavored to obey the command of 
Him who came to redeem pagans as much as nom- 
inal Christians, to go and preach the gospel to 
every creature, because every creature is a lost 
creature. 

But the disbeliever in Revelation adopts the theory 
of human innocency, and looks upon all the wretch- 
edness and ignorance of paganism, as he. looks upon 



ALL MANKIND GUILTY. 



89 



suffering, decay, and death, in the vegetable and 
animal worlds. Temporary evil is the necessary con- 
dition, he asserts, of all finite existence ; and a3 de- 
cay and death in the vegetable and animal worlds 
only result in a more luxuriant vegetation, and an 
increased multiplication of living creatures, so the 
evil and woe of the hundreds of generations, and 
the millions of individuals, during the sixty centu- 
ries that have elapsed since the origin of man, will 
all of it minister to the ultimate and everlasting 
weal of the entire race. There is no need therefore, 
he affirms, of endeavoring to save such -feeble and 
ignorant beings from judicial condemnation and eter- 
nal penalty. Such finiteness and helplessness can- 
not be put into relations to such an awful attribute 
as the eternal nemesis of God. Can it be, — he asks, 
— that the millions upon millions that have been 
born, lived their brief hour, enjoyed their little joys 
ancl suffered their sharp sorrows, and then dropped 
into " the dark backward and abysm of time," have 
really been guilty creatures, and have gone down to 
an endless hell? 

But what does all this reasoning and querying 
imply % Will the objector really take the position 
and stand to it, that the pagan man is not a ration- 
al and responsible creature ? that he does not pos- 
sess sufficient knowledge of moral truth, to justify 
his being brought to the bar of judgment? Will 
he say that the population that knew enough, to 
build the pyramids did not know enough to break 



90 



ALL MANKIND GUILTY. 



the law of God ? Will he affirm that the civiliza- 
tion of Babylon and Nineveh, of Greece and Rome, 
did not contain within it enough of moral intelli- 
gence to constitute a foundation for rewards and 
punishments ? Will he tell us that the people of 
Sodom and Gomorrah stood upon the same plane 
with the brutes that perish, and the trees of the 
field that rot and die, having no idea of God, know- 
ing nothing of the distinction between right and 
wrong, and never feeling the pains of an accusing 
conscience \ Will he maintain that the populations 
of India, in the midst of whom one of the most 
subtile and ingenious systems of pantheism has 
sprung up with the luxuriance and involutions of 
one of their own jungles, and has enervated the 
whole religious sentiment of the Hindoo race as 
opium has enervated their physical frame, — will he 
maintain that such an untiring and persistent men- 
tal activity as this is incapable of apprehending the 
first principles of ethics and natural religion, which, 
in comparison with the complicated and obscure 
ratiocinations of Booclhism, are clear as water, and 
lucid as atmospheric air \ In other connections, 
this theorist does not speak in this style. In other 
connections, and for the purpose of exaggerating 
natural religion and disparaging revealed, he en- 
larges upon the dignity of man, of every man, and 
eulogizes the power of reason which so exalts him 
in the scale of being. With Hamlet, he dilates in 
proud and swelling phrase : " What a piece of work 



ALL MANKIND GUILTY. 



91 



is man ! How noble in reason ! how infinite in fac- 
ulties ! in form and moving, how express and ad- 
mirable ! in action how like an angel ! in apprehen- 
sion how like a god ! the beauty of the world ! the 
paragon of animals ! " It is from that very class of 
theorizers who deny that the heathen are in danger 
of eternal perdition, and who represent the whole 
missionary enterprise as a work of supererogation, 
that we receive the most extravagant accounts of 
the natural powers and gifts of man. Now if 
these powers and gifts do belong to human nature 
by its constitution, they certainly lay a foundation 
for responsibility ; and all such theorists must either 
be able to show that the pagan man has made a 
right use of them, and has walked according to this 
large amount of truth and reason with which, ac- 
cording to their own statement, he is endowed, or 
else they consign him, as St. Paul does, to " the 
wrath of God which is revealed from heaven against 
all ungodliness, and unrighteousness of men who 
hold the truth in unrighteousness" If you assert that 
the pagan man has had no talents at all committed 
to him, and can prove your assertion, and will stand 
by it, you are consistent in denying that he can be 
summoned to the bar of God, and be tried for eter- 
nal life or death. But if you concede that he has 
had one talent, or two talents, committed to his 
charge ; and still more, if you exaggerate his gifts 
and endow him with five or ten talents, then it is 
impossible for you to save him from the judgment 



92 



ALL MANKIND GUILTY. 



to come, except you can prove a perfect administra- 
tion and use of the trust. 1 

2. In the second place, it follows from the doc- 
trine of the text, that the degraded and brutalized 
population of large cities is in a state of condemna- 
tion and perdition. 

There are heathen near our own doors whose re- 
ligious condition is as sad, and hopeless, as that of 
the heathen of Patagonia or New Zealand. The 
vice and crime that nestles and riots in the large 
cities of Christendom has become a common theme, 
and has lost much of its interest for the worldly 
mind by losing its novelty. The manners and way 
of life of the outcast population of London and 
Paris have been depicted by the novelist, and wak- 
ened a momentary emotion in the readers of fiction. 
But the reality is stern and dreadful, beyond ima- 
gination or conception. There is in the cess-pools 
of the great capitals of Christendom a mass of hu- 
man creatures who are bora, who live, and who die, 
in moral putrefaction. Their existence is a contin- 
ued career of sin and woe. Body and soul, mind 
and heart, are given up to earth, to sense, to cor- 



1 Infidelity is constantly chang- 
ing its ground. In the 18th cen- 
tury, the skeptic very generally 
took the position of Lord Herbert 
of Oherbury, and maintained that 
the light of reason is very clear, 
and is adequate to all the religious 
needs of the soul. In the 19th 
century, he is now passing to the 
other extreme, and contending 



that man is kindred to the ape, 
and within the sphere of pagan- 
ism does not possess sufficient 
moral intelligence to constitute 
him responsible. Like Luther's 
drunken beggar on horseback, the 
opponent of Revelation sways 
from the position that man is a 
god, to the position that he is a 
chimpanzee. 



ALL MANKIND GUILTY. 



93 



ruption. They emerge for a brief season into the 
light of day, run their swift and fiery career of sin, 
and then disappear. Dante, in that wonderful Vis- 
ion which embodies so much of true ethics and the- 
ology, represents the wrathful and gloomy class as 
sinking down under the miry waters and continuing 
to breathe in a convulsive, suffocating manner, send- 
ing up bubbles to the surface, that mark the place 
where they are drawing out their lingering existence. 1 
Something like this, is the wretched life of a vicious 
population. As we look in upon the fermenting 
mass, the only signs of life that meet our view in- 
dicate that the life is feverish, spasmodic, and suffo- 
cating;. The bubbles rising to the dark and turbid 
surface reveal that it is a life in death. 

But this, too, is the result of sin. Take the atoms 
one by one that constitute this mass of pollution 
and misery, and you will find that each one of them 
is a self-moving and an unforced will. Not one of 
these millions of individuals has been necessitated 
by Almighty God, or by any of God's arrangements, 
to do wrong. Each one of them is a moral agent, 
equally with you and me. Each one of them is 
s^Zf- willed and 5^-determined in sin. He does not 
like to retain religious truth in his mind, or to obey 
it in his heart. Go into the lowest haunt of vice 
and select out the most imbruted person there ; 
bring to his remembrance that class of truths with 
w T hich he is already acquainted by virtue of his 

1 Dante : Inferno, vii. 100-130. 

5* 



94 



ALL MANKIND GUILTY. 



rational nature, and add to them that other class of 
truths taught in Revelation, and you will find that 
he is predetermined against them. He takes sides, 
with all the depth and intensity of his being, with 
that sinfulness which is common to man, and which 
it is the aim of both ethics and the gospel to remove. 
This vicious and imbruted man loves the sin which 
is forbidden, more than he loves the holiness that 
is commanded. He inclines to the sin which so 
easily besets him, precisely as you and I incline to 
the bosom-sin which so easily besets us. We grant 
that the temptations that assail him are very power- 
ful ; but are not some of the temptations that beset 
you and me very powerful % We grant that this 
wretched slave of vice and pollution cannot break 
off his sins by righteousness, without the renewing 
and assisting grace of God ; but neither can you or 
I. It is the action of Ms oivn will that has made 
him a slave. He loves his chains and his bondage, 
even as you and I naturally love ours; and this 
proves that his moral corruption, though assuming 
an outwardly more repulsive form than ours, is yet 
the same thing in principle. It is the rooted 
aversion of the human heart, the utter disinclina- 
tion of the human will, towards the purity and 
holiness of God ; it is " the carnal mind which is 
enmity against God ; for it is not subject to the law 
of God, neither indeed can be" (Horn. viii. 7). 

But there is no more convincing proof of the po- 
sition, that the degraded creature of whom we are 



ALL MANKIND GUILTY. 



95 



speaking is a self-deciding and unforced sinner, than 
the fact that he resists efforts to reclaim him. Ask 
these faithful and benevolent missionaries who 
go down into these dens of vice and pollution, to 
pour more light into the mind, and to induce these 
outcasts to leave their drunkenness and their de- 
bauchery, — ask them if they find that human nature 
is any different there from what it is elsewhere, so 
far as yielding to the claims of God and law is con- 
cerned. Do they tell you that they are uniformly 
successful in inducing these sinners to leave their 
sins? that they never find any self-will, any de- 
termined opposition to the holy law of purity, any 
preference of a life of licence with its woes here 
upon earth and hereafter in hell, to a life of self-de- 
nial with its joys eternal ? On the contrary, they 
testify that the old maxim upon which so many 
millions of the human family have acted: "Enjoy 
the present and jump the life to come," is the rule 
for this mass of population, of whom so very few 
can be persuaded to leave their cups and their orgies. 
Like the people of Israel, when expostulated with 
by the prophet Jeremiah for their idolatry and pol- 
lution, the majority of the degraded population of 
whom we are speaking, when endeavors have been 
made to reclaim them, have said to the philanthropist 
and the missionary : "There is no hope: no ; for I 
have loved strangers, and after them I will go " (Jer. 
ii. 25). There is not a single individual of them 
all who does not love the sin that is destroying him, 



96 



ALL MANKIND GUILTY. 



more than he loves the holiness that would save 
him. Notwithstanding all the horrible accompani- 
ments of sin, — the filth, the disease, the poverty, the 
sickness, the pain of both body and mind, — the 
wretched creature prefers to enjoy the pleasures of 
sin for a season, rather than come out and separate 
himself from the unclean thing, and begin that holy 
warfare and obedience to which his God and his 
Saviour invite him. This, we repeat, proves that 
the sin is not forced upon this creature. For if he 
hated his sin, nay if he felt weary and heavy laden 
in the least degree because of it, he might leave it. 
There is a free grace, and a proffered assistance of 
the Holy Ghost, of which he might avail himself at 
any moment. Had he the feeling of the weary and 
penitent prodigal, the same father's house is ever 
open for his return ; and the same father seeing 
him on his return, though still a great way off, 
would run and fall upon his neck and kiss him. 
But the heart is hard, and the spirit is utterly 
selfish, and the will is perverse and determined, and 
therefore the natural knowledge of God and his law 
which this sinner possesses by his very constitution, 
and the added knowledge which his birth in a 
Christian land and the efforts of benevolent Chris- 
tians have imparted to him, are not strong enough 
to overcome his inclination, and his preference, and 
induce him to break off his sins by righteousness. 
To him, also, as well as to every sin-loving man, 
these solemn words will be spoken in the day of 



ALL MANKIND GUILTY. 



91 



final adjudication : " The wrath of God is revealed 
from heaven against all ungodliness, and unright- 
eousness, of men who hold down (xcl?e%eiv) the 
truth in unrighteousness ; because that which may 
be known of God is manifest within them ; for 
God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible 
things of him, even his eternal power and God- 
head, are clearly seen from the creation of the 
world, being understood by the things that are 
made; so that they are without excuse, because 
that when they knew God they glorified him not 
as God." 

3. In the third and last place, it follows from 
this doctrine of the apostle Paul, as thus unfolded, 
that that portion of the enlightened and cultivated 
'population of Christian lands who have not be- 
lieved on the Lord Jesus Christ, and repented of 
sin, are in the deepest state of condemnation and 
perdition. 

" Behold thou art called a Jew, and restest in the 
law, and makest thy boast of God, and knowest 
his will, and approvest the things that are more 
excellent, being instructed out of the law, and art 
confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, 
a light of them which are in darkness : an instruct- 
or of the foolish, a teacher of babes : which hast the 
form of knowledge, and of the truth, in the law : 
thou therefore that teachest another teachest thou 
not thyself? thou that makest thy boast of the law, 
through breaking the law dishonorest thou God \ " 



98 



ALL MANKIND GUILTY. 



If it be true that the pagan knows more of God 
and the moral law than he has ever put in prac« 
tice ; if it be true that the imbruted child of vice 
and pollution knows more of God and the moral 
law than he has ever put in practice ; how much 
more fearfully true is it that the dweller in a Chris- 
tian home, the visitant of the house of God, the 
possessor of the written Word, the listener to prayer 
and oftentimes the subject of it, possesses an amount 
of knowledge respecting his origin, his duty, and 
his destiny, that infinitely outruns his character 
and his conduct. If eternal punishment will come 
down upon those classes of mankind who know 
but comparatively little, because they have been 
unfaithful in that which is least, surely eternal 
punishment will come down upon that more fa- 
vored class who know comparatively much, because 
they have been unfaithful in that which is much. 
" If these things are done in the green tree, what 
shall be done in the dry ? " 

The great charge that will rest against the crea- 
ture when he stands before the final bar will be, 
that " when he knew God, he glorified Him not as 
God." And this will rest heaviest against those 
whose knowledge was the clearest. It is a great 
prerogative to be able to know the infinite and 
glorious Creator ; but it brings with it a most sol- 
emn responsibility. That blessed Being, of right, 
challenges the homage and obedience of His crea- 
ture. What he asks of the angel, that he asks of 



ALL MANKIND GUILTY. 



99 



man; that lie should glorify God in his body and 
spirit which are His, and should thereby enjoy God 
forever and forever. This is the condemnation un- 
der which man, and especially enlightened and 
cultivated man, rests, that while he knows God he 
neither glorifies Him nor enjoys Him. Our Re- 
deemer saw this with all the clearness of the Divine 
Mind ; and to deliver the creature from the dread- 
ful guilt of his self-idolatry, of his disposition to 
worship and love the creature more than the Crea- 
tor, He became incarnate, suffered and died. It can- 
not be a small crime, that necessitated such an ap- 
paratus of atonement and Divine influences as that 
of Christ and His redemption. Estimate the guilt 
of coming short of the glory of God, which is the 
same as the guilt of idolatry and creature-worship, 
by the nature of the provision that has been made 
to cancel it. If you do not actually feel that this 
crime is great, then argue yourself towards a juster 
view, by the consideration that it cost the blood of 
Christ to expiate it. If you do not actually feel 
that the guilt is great, then argue yourself towards 
a juster view, by the reflection that you have known 
God to be supremely great, supremely good, and 
supremely excellent, and yet you have never, in a 
single feeling of your heart, or a single thought of 
your mind, or a single purpose of your will, honored 
Him. It is honor, reverence, worship, and love that 
He requires. These you have never rendered ; and 
there is an infinity of guilt in the fact. That guilt 



100 



ALL MANKIND GUILTY. 



will be forgiven for Christ's sake, if you ask for for- 
giveness. But if you do not ask, then it will stand 
recorded against you for eternal ages : " When he, 
a rational and immortal creature, knew God, he glo- 
rified Him not as God." 



SIN 1ST THE HEART THE SOURCE OF ERROR IN THE HEAD. 



Romans i. 28. — " As they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God 
gave them over to a reprobate mind." 



In the opening of the most logical and systematic 
treatise in the New Testament, the Epistle to the 
Romans, the apostle Paul enters upon a line of ar- 
gument to demonstrate the ill-desert of every hu- 
man creature without exception. In order to this, 
he shows that no excuse can be urged upon the 
ground of moral ignorance. He explicitly teaches 
that the pagan knows that there is one Supreme 
God (Rom. i. 20) ; that He is a spirit (Rom. i. 23) ; 
that He is holy and sin-hating (Rom. i. 18); that 
He is worthy to be worshipped (Rom. i. 21, 25) ; and 
that men ought to be thankful for His benefits 
(Rom. i. 21). He affirms that the heathen knows 
that an idol is a lie (Rom. i. 25) ; that licentious- 
ness is a sin (Rom. i. 26, 32) ; that envy, malice, 
and deceit are wicked (Rom. i. 29, 32) ; and that 
those who practise such sins deserve eternal pun- 
ishment (Rom. i 32). 

In these teachings and assertions, the apostle has 



102 



SIN IN THE HEART THE 



attributed no small amount and degree of moral 
knowledge to man as man, — to man outside of Rev- 
elation, as well as under its shining light. The 
question very naturally arises : How comes it to pass 
that this knowledge which Divine inspiration pos- 
tulates, and affirms to be innate and constitutional 
to the human mind, should become so vitiated? 
The majority of mankind are idolaters and poly- 
theists, and have been for thousands of years. Can 
it be that the truth that there is only one God is 
native to the human spirit, and that the pagan 
"knows" this God? The majority of men are 
earthly and sensual, and have been for thousands of 
years. Can it be that there is a moral law written 
upon their hearts forbidding such carnality, and 
enjoining purity and holiness ? 

Some theorizers argue that because the pagan man 
has not obeyed the law, therefore he does not know 
the law ; and that because he has not revered and 
worshipped the one Supreme Deity, therefore he 
does not possess the idea of any such Being. They 
look out upon the heathen populations and see them 
bowing down to stocks and stones, and witness 
their immersion in the abominations of heathenism, 
and conclude that these millions of human beings 
really know no better, and that therefore it is unjust 
to hold them responsible for their polytheism and 
their moral corruption. But why do they confine this 
species of reasoning to the pagan world ? Why do 
they not bring it into nominal Christendom, and ap- 



SOUECE OF ERROR IN THE HEAD. 



103 



ply it there ? Why does not this theorist go into 
the midst of European civilization, into the heart 
of London or Paris, and gauge the moral knowledge 
of the sensualist by the moral character of the 
sensualist ? Why does he not tell us that be- 
cause this civilized man acts no better, therefore 
he knows no better ? Why does he not maintain 
that because this voluptuary breaks all the com- 
mandments in the decalogue, therefore he must be 
ignorant of all the commandments in the decalogue ? 
that because he neither fears nor loves the one only 
God, therefore he does not know that there is any 
such Being? 

It will never do to estimate man's moral knowl- 
edge by man's moral character. He knows more 
than he practises. And there is not so much dif- 
ference in this particular between some men in 
nominal Christendom, and some men in Heathen- 
dom, as is sometimes imagined. The moral knowl- 
edge of those who lie in the lower strata of Chris- 
tian civilization, and those who lie in the higher 
strata of Paganism, is probably not so very far 
apart. Place the imbruted outcasts of our metro- 
politan population beside the Indian hunter, with 
his belief in the Great Spirit, and his worship with- 
out images or pictorial representations ; 1 beside the 
stalwart Mandinsro of the hi^h table-lands of Cen- 

1 " There are no profane words ing of the ' Great Spirit.' " — For- 
iu the (Iowa) Indian language; eign Missionary : May, 1SG3, p. 
no light or profane way of speak- 337. 



104 



SES" IN THE HEART THE 



tral Africa, with his active and enterprising spirit, 
carrying on manufactures and trade with all the 
keenness of an y civilized worldling; beside the na- 
tive merchants and lawyers of Calcutta, who still 
cling to their ancestral Boodhism, or else substitute 
French infidelity in its place ; place the lowest of 
the highest beside the highest of the lowest, and tell 
us if the difference is so very marked. Sin, like ho- 
liness, is a mighty leveler. The " dislike to retain 
God " in the consciousness, the aversion of the 
heart towards the purity of the moral law, vitiates 
the native perceptions alike in Christendom and Pa- 
ganism. 

The theory that the pagan is possessed of such 
an amount and decree of moral knowledge as has 
been specified has awakened some apprehension in 
the minds of some Christian theologians, and has 
led them unintentionally to foster the opposite the- 
ory, which, if strictly adhered to, would lift off all 
responsibility from the pagan world, would bring 
them in innocent at the bar of God, and would ren- 
der the whole enterprise of Christian missions a 
superfluity and an absurdity. Their motive has 
been good. They have feared to attribute any de- 
cree of accurate knowledge of God and the moral 
law, to the pagan world, lest they should thereby 
conflict with the doctrine of total depravity. They 
have mistakenly supposed, that if they should con- 
cede to every man, by virtue of his moral constitu- 
tion, some correct apprehensions of ethics and natu- 



SOURCE OF ERROR IN THE HEAD. 



105 



ral religion, it would follow that there is some na- 
tive goodness in him. But light in the intellect is 
very different from life in the heart. It is one 
thing to know the law of God, and quite an- 
other thing to be conformed to it. Even if we 
should concede to the degraded pagan, or the 
degraded dweller in the haunts of vice in Chris- 
tian lands, all the intellectual knowledge of God 
and the moral law that is possessed by the ruined 
archangel himself, we should not be adding a parti- 
cle to his moral character or his moral excellence. 
There is nothing of a holy quality in the mere intel- 
lectual perception that there is one Supreme De- 
ity, and that He has issued a pure and holy law for 
the guidance of all rational beings. The mere doc- 
trine of the Divine Unity will save no man. " Thou 
believest," says St. James, " that there is one God ; 
thou doest well, the devils also believe and tremble." 
Satan himself is a monotheist, and knows very clear- 
ly all the commandments of God; but his heart and 
will are in demoniacal antagonism with them. And 
so it is, only in a lower degree, in the instance of 
the pagan, and of the natural man, in every age, and 
in every clime. He knows more than he practises. 
This intellectual perception therefore, this inborn 
constitutional apprehension, instead of lifting up 
man into a higher and more favorable position be- 
fore the eternal bar, casts him down to perdition. 
If he knew nothing at all of his Maker and his duty, 
he could not be held responsible, and could not be 



106 



BUI m THE HEART THE 



summoned to judgment. As St. Paul affirms : 
" Where there is no law there is no transgression." 
But if, when he knew God in some degree, he glori- 
fied him not as God to that degree ; and if, when 
the moral law was written upon the heart he 
went counter to its requirements, and heard the 
accusing voice of his own conscience ; then his 
mouth must be stopped, and he must become guilty 
before his Judge, like any and every other disobe- 
dient creature. 

It is this serious and damning fact in the history 
of man upon the globe, that St. Paul brings to view, 
in the passage which we have selected as the foun- 
dation of this discourse. He accounts for all the 
idolatry and sensuality, all the darkness and vain 
imaginations of paganism, by referring to the aver- 
sion of the natural heart towards the one only holy 
God. " Men," he says, — these pagan men, — " did not 
like to retain God in their knowledge." The primary 
difficulty was in their affections, and not in their 
understandings. They knew too much for their 
own comfort in sin. The contrast between the Di- 
vine purity that was mirrored in their conscience, 
and the sinfulness that was wrought into their 
heart and will, rendered this inborn constitutional 
idea of God a very painful one. It was a fire in 
the bones. If the Psalmist, a renewed man, yet 
not entirely free from human corruption, could say : 
" I thought of God and was troubled," much more 
must the totally depraved man of paganism be filled 



60UECE OF EEEOE IN TIIE HEAD. 107 



with terror when, in the thoughts of his heart, in 
the hour when the accusing conscience was at work, 
he brought to mind the one great God of gods 
whom he did not glorify, and whom he had offend- 
ed. It was no wonder, therefore, that he did not 
like to retain the idea of such a Being in his con- 
sciousness, and that he adopted all possible expedi- 
ents to get rid of it. The apostle informs ns that 
the pagan actually called in his imagination to his 
aid, in order to extirpate, if possible, all his native 
and rational ideas and convictions upon religious 
subjects. He became vain in his imaginations, and 
his foolish heart as a consequence was darkened, and 
he changed the glory of the incorruptible God, the 
spiritual unity of the Deity, into an image mads 
like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-foot- 
ed beasts, and creeping things (Rom. i. 21-23). He 
invented idolatry, and all those " gay religions full 
of pomp and gold," in order to blunt the edge of 
that sharp spiritual conception of God which was 
continually cutting and lacerating his wicked and 
sensual heart. Hiding himself amidst the columns of 
his idolatrous temples, and under the smoke of his 
idolatrous incense, he thought like Adam to escape 
from the view and inspection of that Infinite One 
who, from the creation of the world downward, 
makes known to all men his eternal power and god- 
head ; who, as St. Paul taught the philosophers of 
Athens, is not far from any one of his rational crea- 
tures (Acts xvii. 27) ; and who, as the same apostle 



108 



SIN IN THE HEART THE 



taught the pagan Lycaonians, though in times past 
he suffered all nations to walk in their own ways, 
yet left not himself without witness, iu that he did 
good, and gave them rain from heaven, and fruitful 
seasons, filling their hearts with food and gladness. 
(Acts xiv. 16, 17). 

The first step in the process of mutilating the 
original idea of God, as a unity and an unseen Spirit, 
is seen in those pantheistic religions which lie behind 
all the mythologies of the ancient world, like a nebu- 
lous vapor out of which the more distinct idols and 
images of paganism are struggling. Here the notion 
of the Divine unity is still preserved; but the Di- 
vine personality and holiness are lost. God be- 
comes a vague impersonal Power, with no moral 
qualities, and no religious attributes ; and it is dif- 
ficult to say which is worst in its moral influence, 
this pantheism which while retaining the doctrine 
of the Divine unity yet denudes the Deity of all 
that renders him an object of either love or reverence, 
or the grosser idolatries that succeeded it. For man 
cannot love, with all his mind and heart and soul 
and strength, a vast impersonal force working blind- 
ly through infinite space and everlasting time. 

And the second and last stage in this process of 
vitiating the true idea of God appears in that poly- 
theism in the midst of which St. Paul lived, and la- 
bored, and preached, and died ; in that seductive 
and beautiful paganism, that classical idolatry, which 
still addresses the human taste in such a fascinating 



S0TTECE OF EEEOE IN THE HEAD. 



109 



manner, in the Venus de Medici, and the Apollo 
Belvidere. The idea of the unity of God is now 
mangled and cut up into the " gods many " and 
the " lords many" into the thirty thousand divin- 
ities of the pagan pantheon. This completes the 
process. God now gives his guilty creature over 
to these vain imaginations of naturalism, material- 
ism, and idolatry, and to an increasingly darkening 
mind, until in the lowest forms of heathenism he so 
distorts and suppresses the con created idea of the 
Deity that some speculatists assert that it does not 
belong to his constitution, and that his Maker never 
endowed him with it. How is the gold become 
dim ! How is the most fine gold changed ! 

Bat it will be objected that all this lies in the 
past. This is the account of a process that has re- 
quired centuries, yea millenniums, to bring about. 
A hundred generations have been engaged in trans- 
muting the monotheism with which the human race 
started, into the pantheism and polytheism in which 
the great majority of it is now involved. How do 
you establish the guilt of those at the end of the 
line? How can you charge upon the present gen- 
eration of pagans the same culpability that Paul im- 
puted to their ancestors eighteen centuries ago, and 
that Noah the preacher of righteousness denounced 
upon the antediluvian pagan \ As the deteriorat- 
ing process advances, does not the guilt diminish ? 
and now, in these ends of the ages, and in these 
dark habitations of cruelty, has not the culpability 



110 



SLN" ES" THE HEAET THE 



run down to a minimum, which God in the day of 
judgment will " wink at ? " 

We answer No : Because the structure of the hu 
man mind is precisely the same that it was when 
the Sodomites held down the truth in unrighteous- 
ness, and the Roman populace turned up their 
thumbs that they might see the last drops of blood 
ebb slowly from the red gash in the dying gladia- 
tor's side. Man, in his deepest degradation, in his 
most hardened depravity, is still a rational intelli- 
gence ; and though he should continue to sin on in- 
definitely, through cycles of time as long as those 
of geology, he cannot unmake himself; he cannot 
unmould his immortal essence, and absolutely eradi- 
cate all his moral ideas. Paganism itself has its 
fluctuations of moral knowledge. The early Roman, 
in the days of Numa, was highly ethical in his 
views of the Deity, and his conceptions of moral 
law. Varro informs us that for a period of one hun- 
dred and seventy years the Romans worshipped their 
gods without any images ; 1 and Sallust denominates 
these pristine Romans " religiosissimi mortales." 
And how often does the missionary discover a tribe 
or a race, whose moral intelligence is higher than 
that of the average of paganism. Nay, the same 
race, or tribe, passes from one phase of polytheism 
to another; in one instance exhibiting many of the 
elements and truths of natural religion, and in an- 



Plutaech : Nnma, 8 ; Attgustixe : De Oivitate, iv. 31. 



SOURCE OF ERROR m THE HEAD. Ill 



other almost entirely suppressing them. These facts 
prove that the pagan man is under supervision ; 
that he is under the righteous despotism of moral 
ideas and convictions; that God is not far from 
him ; that he lives and moves and has his being in 
his Maker ; and that God does not leave himself 
without witness in his constitutional structure. 
Therefore it is, that this sea of rational intelligence 
thus surges and sways in the masses of paganism ; 
sometimes dashing the creature up the heights, and 
sometimes sending him down into the depths. 

But while this subject has this general applica- 
tion to mankind outside of Revelation; while it 
throws so much light upon the question of the 
heathens' responsibility and guilt ; while it tends to 
deepen our interest in the work of Christian missions, 
and to stimulate us to obey our Redeemer's command 
to go and preach the gospel to them, in order to 
save them from the wrath of God which abideth 
upon them as it does upon ourselves; while this 
subject has these profound and far-reaching appli- 
cations, it also presses with sharpness and energy 
upon the case, and the position, of millions of men in 
Christendom. A m this more particular aspect 
of the theme, we \ i attention for a moment. 

This same process of corruption, and vitiation of 
a correct knowledge of God, which we have seen to 
go on upon a large scale in the instance of the hea- 
then world, also often goes on in the instance of a 
single individual under the light of Revelation itself 



112 



SIN IN THE HEART THE 



Have you never known a person to have been well 
educated in childhood and youth respecting the 
character and government of God, and yet in mid- 
dle life and old age to have altered and corrupted 
all his early and accurate apprehensions, by the 
gradual adoption of contrary views and sentiments ? 
In his childhood and youth, he believed that God 
distinguishes between the righteous and the wicked, 
that he rewards the one and punishes the other, and 
hence he cherished a saiutary fear of his Maker that 
agreed well with the dictates of his unsophisticated 
reason, and the teachings of nature and revelation. 
But when he became a man, he put away these 
childish things, in a far different sense from that of 
the Apostle. As the years rolled along, he succeed- 
ed, by a career of worldliness and of sensuality, in 
expelling this stock of religious knowledge, this 
right way of conceiving of God, from his mind, and 
now at the close of life and upon the very brink of 
eternity and of doom, this very same person is as 
unbelieving respecting the moral attributes of Je- 
hovah, and as unfearing with regard to them, as if 
the entire experience and creed of his childhood 
and youth were a delusion and a lie. This rational 
and immortal creature in the morning of his exist- 
ence looked up into the clear sky with reverence, 
being impressed by the eternal power and godhead 
that are there, and when he had committed a sin lie 
felt remorseful and guilty ; but the very same per- 
son now sins recklessly and with flinty hardness of 



SOUKCE OF EKKOR IN THE HEAD. 118 

heart, casts sullen or scowling glances upward, and 
says : " There is no God." Compare the Edward 
Gibbon whose childhood expanded under the teach- 
ings of a beloved Christian matron trained in the 
school of the devout William Law, and whose youth 
exhibited unwonted religious sensibility, — compare 
this Edward Gibbon with the Edward Gibbon 
whose manhood was saturated with utter unbelief, 
and whose departure into the dread hereafter was, 
in his own phrase, " a leap in the dark." Compare 
the Aaron Burr whose blood was deduced from one 
of the most saintly lineages in the history of the 
American church, and all of whose' early life was 
embosomed in ancestral piety, — compare this Aaron 
Burr with the Aaron Burr whose middle life and 
prolonged old age was unimpressible as marble 
to all religious ideas and influences. In both of 
these instances, it was the aversion of the heart that 
for a season (not for eternity, be it remembered) 
quenched out the light in the head. These men, 
like the pagan of whom St. Paul speaks, did not 
like to retain a holy God in their knowledge, and 
He gave them over to a reprobate mind. 

These fluctuations and changes in doctrinal belief, 
both in the general and the individual mind, furnish 
materials for deep reflection by both the philoso- 
pher and the Christian ; and such an one will often 
be led to notice the exact parallel and similarity 
there is between religious deterioration in races, and 
religious deterioration in individuals. The dislike 



114 



SIN IN THE HEAET THE 



to retain a knowledge already furnished, because it 
is painful, because it rebukes worldliness and sin, is 
that which ruins both mankind in general, and the 
man in particular. Were the heart only conformed 
to the truth, the truth never would be corrupted, 
never would be even temporarily darkened in the 
human soul. Should the pagan, himself, actually 
obey the dictates of his own reason and conscience, 
he would find the light that was in him growing 
still clearer and brighter. God himself, the author 
of his rational mind, and the Light that lighteth 
every man that cometh into the world, would re- 
ward him for his obedience by granting him yet 
more knowledge. We cannot say in what particu- 
lar mode the Divine providence would bring it 
about, but it is as certain as that God lives, that if 
the pagan world should act up to the degree of light 
which they enjoy, they would be conducted ulti- 
mately to the truth as it is in Jesus, and would be 
saved by the Redeemer of the world. The instance 
of the Roman centurion Cornelius is a case in point. 
This was a thoughtful and serious pagan. It is in- 
deed very probable that his military residence in 
Palestine had cleared up, to some degree, his natu- 
ral intuitions of moral truth; but we know that he 
was ignorant of the way of salvation through Christ, 
from the fact that the apostle Peter was instructed 
in a vision to go and preach it unto him. The sin- 
cere endeavor of this Gentile, this then pagan in 
reference to Christianity, to improve the little 



SOURCE OF EREOE EN TIIE HEAD. 



115 



knowledge which he had, met with the Divine ap- 
probation, and was crowned with a saving acquaint- 
ance with the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. 
Peter himself testified to this, when, after hearing 
from the lips of Cornelius the account of his pre- 
vious life, and of the way in which God had led 
him, " he opened his mouth and said, Of a truth 
I perceive that God is no respecter of persons : 
but in every nation, he that feareth him and work- 
eth righteousness is accepted with him" (Acts x. 
34, 3d). 1 

But such instances as this of Cornelius are not 
one in millions upon millions. The light shines in 
the darkness that comprehends it not. Almost 
without an exception, so far as the human eye can 
see, the unevangelized world holds the truth in un- 
righteousness, and does not like to retain the idea 
of a holy God, and a holy law, in its knowledge. 
Therefore the knowledge continually diminishes ; 



1 It should be noticed that Cor- 
nelius was not prepared for an- 
other life, by the moral virtue 
which he had practised before 
meeting with Peter, but by his 
penitence for sin and faith in 
Jesus Christ, whom Peter preach- 
ed to him as the Saviour from sin 
(Acts x. 43). Good works can 
no more prepare a pagan for eter- 
nity than they can a nominal 
Christian. Epictetus and Marcus 
Aurelius could no more be justi- 
fied by their personal character, 
than Saul of Tarsus could be. 
First, because the virtue is imper- 
fect, at the best : and, secondly, 
it does not begin at the beginning 



of existence upon earth, and con- 
tinue nnintermittently to the end 
of it. A sense of sin is a far more 
hopeful indication, in the instance 
of a heathen, than a sense of vir- 
tue. The utter absence of humil- 
ity and sorrow in the "Medita- 
tions" of the philosophic Empe- 
ror, and the omnipresence in them 
of pride and self-satisfaction, place 
him out of all relations to the 
Divine mercy. In trying to judge 
of the final condition of a pagan 
outside of revelation, we must ask 
the question : Was he penitent ? 
rather than the question : Was 
he virtuous ? 



116 



snsr m the heakt the 



the light of natural reason and conscience grows 
dimmer and dimmer; and the soul siuks down in 
the mire of sin and sensuality, apparently devoid of 
all the higher ideas of God, and law, and immortal 
life. 

We have thus considered the truth which St. 
Paul teaches in the text, that the ultimate source of 
all human error is in the character of the human 
heart. Mankind do not like to retain God in their 
knowledge, and therefore they come to possess a 
reprobate mind. The origin of idolatry, and of in- 
fidelity, is not in the original constitution with 
which the Creator endowed the creature, but iu that 
evil heart of unbelief by which he departed from 
the living God. Sinful man shapes his creed iu ac- 
cordance with his wishes, and not in accordance 
with the unbiased decisions of his reason and con- 
science. He does not like to think of a holy God, 
and therefore he denies that God is holy. He does 
not like to think of the eternal punishment of sin, 
and therefore he denies that punishment is eternal. 
He does not like to be pardoned through the sub- 
stituted sufferings of the Son of God, and therefore 
he denies the doctrine of atonement. He does not 
like the truth that man is so totally alienated from 
God that he needs to be renewed in the spirit of 
his mind by the Holy Ghost, and therefore he de- 
nies the doctrines of depravity and regeneration. 
Run through the creed which the Church has lived 
by and died by, and you will discover that the only 



S0UECE OF EEEOE IX THE HEAD. 



117 



obstacle to its reception is the aversion of the hu- 
man heart. It is a rational creed in all its parts 
and combinations. It has outlived the collisions 
and conflicts of a hundred schools of infidelity that 
have had their brief day, and died with their devo- 
tees. A hundred systems of philosophy falsely so 
called have come and gone, but the one old religion 
of the patriarchs, and the prophets, and the apostles, 
holds on its way through the centuries, conquering 
and to conquer. Can it be that sheer imposture 
and error have such a tenacious vitality as this \ 
If reason is upon the side of infidelity, why does 
not infidelity remain one and the same unchanging 
thing, like Christianity, from age to age, and subdue 
all men unto it \ If Christianity is a delusion and 
a lie, why does it not die out, and disappear? The 
difficulty is not upon the side of the human reason, 
but of the human heart. Skeptical men do not 
like the religion of the New Testament, these doc- 
trines of sin and grace, and therefore they shape 
their creed by their sympathies and antipathies; by 
what they wish to have true ; by their heart rather 
than by their head. As the Founder of Christian- 
ity said to the Jews, so he says to every man who 
rejects His doctrine of grace and redemption : " Ye 
will not come unto me that ye might have life." 
It is an inclination of the will, and not a conviction 
of the reason, that prevents the reception of the 
Christian religion. 

o t 

Among the many reflections that are suggested 

6* 



118 



SIN m THE HEAKT THE 



by this subject and its discussion, our limits permit 
only the following : 

1. It betokens deep wickedness, in any man, to 
change the truth of God into a lie, — to substitute a 
false theory in religion for the true one. " Woe 
unto them," says the prophet, " that call evil good, 
aud good evil ; that put darkness for light, and light 
for darkness ; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet 
for bitter." There is no form of moral evil that is 
more hateful in the sight of Infinite Truth, than 
that intellectual depravity which does not like to 
retain a holy God in its knowledge, and therefore 
mutilates the very idea of the Deity, and attempts 
to make him other than he is. There is no sinner 
that will be visited with a heavier vengeance than 
that cool and calculating man, who, because he dis- 
likes the unyielding purity of the moral law, and 
the awful sanctions by which it is accompanied, de- 
liberately alters it to suit his wishes and his self- 
indulgence. If a person is tempted and falls into 
sin, and yet does not change his religious creed in 
order to escape the reproaches of conscience and the 
fear of retribution, there is hope that the orthodoxy 
of his head may result, by God's blessing upon his 
own truth, in sorrow for the sin and a forsaking there- 
of. A man, for instance, who amidst all his tempta- 
tions and transgressions still retains the truth 
taught him from the Scriptures, at his mother's 
knees, that a finally impenitent sinner will go down 
to eternal torment, feels a powerful check upon his 



SOURCE OF ERROR IN THE HEAD. 



119 



passions, and is often kept from outward and actual 
transgressions by his creed. But if he deliberately, 
and by an act of will, says in his heart : " There is 
no hell;" if he substitutes for the theory that ren- 
ders the commission of sin dangerous and fearful, a 
theory that relieves it from all danger and all fear, 
there is no hope that he will ever cease from sinning. 
On the contrary, having brought his head into har- 
mony with his heart ; having adjusted his theory 
to his practice ; having shaped his creed by his pas- 
sions; having changed the truth of God into a lie; 
he then plunges into sin with an abandonment and 
a momentum that is awful. In the phrase of the 
prophet, he a draws iniquity with cords of vanity, 
and sin as it were with a cart-rope." 

It is here jhat we see the deep guilt of those, who, 
by false theories of God and man and law and 
penalty, tempt the young or the old to their eternal 
destruction. It is sad and fearful, when the weak 
physical nature is plied with all the enticements of 
earth and sense ; but it is yet sadder and more 
fearful, wheir: the intellectual nature is sought to be 
perverted £>nd ensnared by specious theories that 
annihilate the distinction between virtue and vice, 
that take away all holy fear of God, and reverence 
for His law, that represent the everlasting future 
either as an everlasting elysium for all, or else as 
an eternal sleep. The demoralization, in this in- 
stance, is central and radical. It is in the brain, in 
the very understanding itself. If the foundations 



120 



SIN IN THE HEART THE 



I themselves of morals and religion are destroyed, 
! what can be done for the salvation of the creature \ 
A heavy woe is denounced against any and every 
one who tempts a fellow-being. Temptation implies 
malice. It is Satanic. It betokens a desire to ruin 
an immortal spirit. When therefore the siren would 
allure a human creature from the path of virtue, the 
inspiration of God utters a deep and bitter curse 
against her. But when the cold-blooded Mephisto- 
pheles endeavors to sophisticate the reason, to de- 
bauch the judgment, to sear the conscience ; when 
the temptation is addressed to the intellect, and the 
desire of the tempter is to overthrow the entire re- 
ligious creed of a human being, — perhaps a youth 
just entering upon that hazardous enterprise of life 
in which he needs every jot and tittle of eternal 
truth to guide and protect him, — when the entice- 
ment assumes this purely mental form and aspect, 
it betokens the most malignant and heaven-darins; 
guilt in the tempter. And we may be certain that 
the retribution that will be meted out to it, by Hiin 
who is true and The Truth ; who abhors all false- 
hood and all lies with an infinite intensity ; will be 
terrible beyond conception. u Woe unto you ye 
blind guides f Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, 
how can ye escape the damnation of hell ! If any 
man shall add unto these things, God shall add 
unto him the plagues that are written in this book. 
And if any man shall take away from the words of 
the book of this prophecy, God shall take away 



SOURCE OF EEEOE IN THE HEAD. 



121 



his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy 
city, and from the things that are written in this 
book." 

2. In the second place, we perceive, in the light 
of this subject, the great danger of not reducing re- 
ligious truth to practice. There are two fatal 
hazards in not obeying the doctrines of the Bible 
while yet there is an intellectual assent to them. 
The first is, that these doctrines shall themselves 
become diluted and corrupted. So long as the af- 
fectionate submission of the heart is not yielded to 
their authority ; so long as there is any dislike to- 
wards their holy claims ; there is great danger that, 
as in the instance of the pagan, they will not be re- 
tained in the knowledge. The sinful man becomes 
weary of a form of doctrine that continually rebukes 
him, and gradually changes it into one that is less 
truthful and restraining. But a second and equally 
alarming danger is, that the heart shall become ac- 
customed to the truth, and grow hard and indiffer- 
ent towards it. There are a multitude of persons 
who hear the word of God and never dream of dis- 
puting it, w T ho yet, alas, never dream of obeying 
it. To such the living truth of the gospel becomes 
a petrifaction, and a savor of death unto death. 

We urge you, therefore, ye who know the doc- 
trines of the law and the doctrines of the gospel, to 
give an affectionate and hearty assent to them both. 
When the divine Word asserts that you are guilty, 
and that you cannot stand in the judgment before 



122 



SIN IN THE HEAET. 



God, make answer: "It is so, it is so." Practically 
and deeply acknowledge the doctrine of human 
guilt and corruption. Let it no longer be a theory 
in the head, but a humbling salutary conscious- 
ness in the heart. And when the divine Word af- 
firms that God so loved the world that he gave his 
Only-Begotten Son to redeem it, make a quick and 
joyful response : " It is so, it is so." Instead of 
changing the truth of God into a lie, as the guilty 
world have been doing for six thousand years, 
change it into a blessed consciousness of the soul. 
Believe what you know ; and then what you know 
will be the wisdom of God to your salvation. 



THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES. 



t'jVKE xi. 13. — " If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your 
children; how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit 
to them that ask him ? " 

The reality, and necessity, of the oj)eration of the 
Holy Spirit upon the human heart, is a doctrine 
very frequently taught in the Scriptures. Our Lord, 
in the passage from which the text is taken, speaks of 
the third Person in the Trinity in such a manner as 
to convey the impression that His agency is as in- 
dispensable, in order to spiritual life, as food is in 
order to physical ; that sinful man as much needs 
the influences of the Holy Ghost as he does his 
daily bread. " If a son shall ask bread of any of 
you that is a father, will he give him a stone V If 
this is not at all supposable, in the case of an affec- 
tionate earthly parent, much less is it supposable 
that God the heavenly Father will refuse renewing 
and sanctifying influences to them that ask for them. 
By employing such a significant comparison as this, 
our Lord implies that there is as pressing need of 
the gift in the one instance as in the other. For, 
he does not compare spiritual influences with the 



124 THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES. 

mere luxuries of life, — with wealth, fame, or power 
— but with the very staff of life itself. He selects the 
very bread by which the human body lives, to illus- 
trate the helpless sinner's need of the Holy Ghost. 
When God, by his prophet, would teach His peo- 
ple that he would at some future time bestow a 
rich and remarkable blessing upon them, He says : 
" I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh." When 
our Saviour was about to leave his disciples, and 
was sending them forth as the ministers of his relig- 
ion, he promised them a direct and supernatural 
agency that should " reprove the world of sin, of 
righteousness, and of judgment." 

And the history of Christianity evinces both the 
necessity and reality of Divine influences. God the 
Spirit has actually been present by a special and 
peculiar agency, in this sinful and hardened world, 
and hence the heart of flesh and the spread of vital 
religion. God the Spirit has actually been absent, 
so far as concerns his special and peculiar agency, 
and hence the continuance of the heart of 
stone, and the decline, and sometimes the ex- 
tinction of vital religion. Where the Holy Spirit 
has been, specially and peculiarly, there the true 
Church of Christ has been, and where the Holy 
Spirit has not been, specially and peculiarly, there 
the Church of Christ has not been ; however care- 
fully, or imposingly, the externals of a church organ- 
ization may have been maintained. 

But there is no stronger, or more effective proof 



THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES. 125 



of the need of the presence and agency of the Holy 
Spirit, than that which is derived from the nature 
of the nose, as it appears in the individual. Just in 
proportion as we come to know our own moral con- 
dition, and our own moral necessities, shall we see 
and feel that the origin and growth of holiness with- 
in our earthly and alienated souls, without the agen- 
cy of God the Holy Spirit, is an utter impossibility. 
Let us then look into the argument from the nature 
of the case, and consider this doctrine of a direct 
Divine operation, in its relations to ourselves per- 
sonally. Why, then, does every man need these 
influences of the Holy Spirit which are so cordially 
offered in the text ? 

I. He needs them, in the first place, in order that 
he may he convinced of the reality of the eternal 
world. 

There is such a world. It has as actual an exist- 
ence as Europe or Asia. Though not an object for 
any one of the five senses, the invisible world is as 
substantial as the great globe itself, and will be 
standing when the elements shall have been melted 
with fervent heat, and the heavens are no more. 
This eternal world, furthermore, is not only real, 
but it is filled with realities that are yet more sol- 
emn. God inhabits it. The judgment-seat of 
Christ is set up in it. Heaven is in it. Hell is in 
it. Myriads of myriads of holy and happy spirits 
are there. Myriads of sinful and wretched spirits 
are there. Nay, this unseen world is the only real 



126 THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES. 

world, and the objects in it the only real objects, if 
we remember that only that which is immutable de- 
serves the name of real. If we employ the eternal as 
the measure of real being, then all that is outside of 
eternity is unreal and a vanity. This material 
world acquires impressiveness for man, by virtue 
of the objects that fill it. His farm is in it, his 
houses are upon it, solid mountains rise up from it r 
great rivers run through it, and the old rolling 
heavens are bent over it. But what is the transient 
reality of these objects, these morning vapors, com- 
pared with the everlasting reality of such beings as 
God and the soul, of such facts as holiness and sin, 
of such states as heaven and hell ? Here, then, we 
have in the unseen and eternal world a most solemn 
and real object of knowledge ; but where, among 
mankind, is the solemn and vivid knowledge itself? 
Knowledge is the union of a fact with a feeling. 
There may be a stone in the street, but unless I 
smite it with my foot, or smite it with my eye, I 
have no knowledge of the stone. So, too, there is 
an invisible world, outstanding and awfully impress- 
ive ; but unless I feel its influences, and stand with 
awe beneath its shadows, it is as though it were 
not. Here is an orb that has risen up into the ho- 
rizon, but all eyes are shut. 

For, no thoughtful observer fails to perceive that 
an earthly, and unspiritual mode of thought and 
feeling is the prevalent one among men. No one 
who has ever endeavored to arrest the attention of 



THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES. 127 



a fellow-man, and give his thoughts an upward ten- 
dency towards eternity, will say that the effort is 
easily and generally successful. On the contrary, 
if an ethereal and holy inhabitant of heaven were 
to go up and down our earth, and witness man's 
immersion in sense and time, the earthliness of his 
views and aims, his neglect of spiritual objects and 
interests, his absorption in this existence, and his 
foiwtfulness of the other, it would be difficult to 
convince him that he was among beings made in 
the image of God, and was mingling with a race 
having an immortal destination beyond the grave. 

In this first feature of the case, then, as we find 
it in ourselves, and see it in all our fellow-men, we 
have the first evidence of the need of awakening in- 
fluences from on high. Since man, naturally, is 
destitute of a solemn sense of eternal things, it is 
plain that there can be no moral change produced 
in him, unless he is first wakened from this drowze. 
He cannot become the subject of that new birth 
without which he cannot see the kingdom of God, 
unless his torpor respecting the Unseen is removed. 
Entirely satisfied as he now is with this mode of 
existence, and thinking little or nothing about an- 
other, the first necessity in his case is a startle, and 
an alarm. Difficult as he now finds it to be, to 
bring the invisible world before his mind in a wav 
to affect his feelings, he needs to have it loom upon 
his inward vision with such power and impressive- 
ness that he cannot take his eye off, if he would. 



128 THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES. 

Lethargic as lie now is, respecting his own immor- 
tality, it is impossible for him to live and act with 
constant reference to it, unless he is wakened to its 
significance. Is it not self-evident, that if the sinner's 
present indifference towards the invisible world, and 
his failure to feel its solemn reality, continues 
through life, he will certainly enter that state of 
existence with his present character ? Looking into 
the human spirit, and seeing how dead it is towards 
God and the future, must we not say, that if this 
deadness to eternity lasts until the death of the 
body, it will certainly be the death of the soul ? 

But, in what way can man be made to realize 
that there is an eternal world, to which he is rapid- 
ly tending, and realities there, with which, by the 
very constitution of his spirit, he is forever and in- 
dissolubly connected either for bliss or woe ? How 
shall thoughtless and earthly man, as he treads these 
streets, and transacts all this business, and enjoys 
life, be made to feel with misgiving, foreboding, and 
alarm, that there is an eternity, and that he must 
soon enter it, as other men do, either as a heaven or 
a hell for his soul ? The answer to this question, 
so often asked in sadness and sorrow by the preach- 
er of the word, drives us back to the throne of God 
and to a mightier agency than that of man. 

For one thing is certain, that this apathy and 
deadness will never of itself generate sensibility and 
life. Satan never casts out Satan. If this slumber- 
er be left to himself, he is lost. Should any man be 



THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES. 



129 



given ever to the natural inclination of his heart, 
he would never be awakened. Should his earthly 
mind receive no check, and his corrupt heart take 
its own way, he would never realize that there is 
another world than this, until he entered it. For, 
the worldly mind and the corrupt heart busy them- 
selves solely and happily with this existence. They 
find pleasure in the things of this life, and therefore 
never look beyond them. Worldly men do not in- 
terfere with their own present actual enjoyment. 
Who of this class voluntarily makes himself unhap- 
py, by thinking of subjects that are gloomy to his 
mind ? What man of the world starts up from his 
sweet sleep and his pleasant dreams, and of his own 
accord looks the stern realities of death and the 
judgment in the eye ? No natural man begins to 
wound himself, that he may be healed. No earth- 
ly man begins to slay himself, that he may be made 
alive. Even when the natural heart is roused and 
wakened by some foreign agency ; some startling 
providence of God or some Divine operation in the 
conscience, how soon, if left to its own motion and 
tendency, does it relapse into its old slumber 
and sleep. The needle has received a shock, but 
after a slight trembling and vibration it soon settles 
again upon its axis, ever and steady to the north. 
It is plain, that the sinner's worldly mind and apa- 
thetic nature will never conduct him to a proper 
sense of Divine things. 

The awakening, then, of the human soul, to an 



130 THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES. 

effectual apprehension of eternal realities, must take 
its first issue from some other Being than the drow- 
zy and slumbering creature himself. We are not- 
speaking of a few serious thoughts that now and 
then fleet across the human mind, like meteors at 
midnight, and are seen no more. We are speaking 
of that permanent, that everlasting dawning of eter- 
nity, with its terrors and its splendors, upon the 
human soul, which allows it no more repose, until 
it is prepared for eternity upon good grounds and 
foundations ; and with reference to such a profound 
consciousness of the future state as this, we say with 
confidence, that the awakening must proceed from 
some Being who is far more alive to the solemnity 
and significance of eternal duration than earthly 
man is. Without impulses from on high, the sin- 
ner never rouses up to attend to the subject of re- 
ligion. He lives on indifferent to his religious in- 
terests, until God, who is more merciful to his 
deathless soul than he himself is, by His providence 
startles him, or by His Spirit in his conscience alarms 
him. Never, until God interferes to disturb his 
dreams, and break up his slumber, does he pro- 
foundly and permanently feel that he was made 
for another world, and is fast going into it. How 
often does God say to the careless man : " Arise, O 
sleeper, and Christ shall give thee light ; " and how 
often does he disregard the warning voice ! How 
often does God stimulate his conscience, and flare 
light into his mind ; and how often does he stifle 



THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES. 131 



down these inward convictions, and suffer the light 
to shine in the darkness that comprehends it not ! 
These facts in the personal history of every sin-lov- 
ing man show, that the human soul does not of its 
own isolated action wake up to the realities of eter- 
nity. They also show that God is very merciful to 
the human soul, in positively and powerfully inter- 
fering for its welfare ; but that man, in infinite folly 
and wickedness, loves the sleep, and inclines to re- 
main in it. The Holy Spirit strives, but the human 
spirit resists. 

II. In the second place, man needs the influ- 
ences of the Holy Spirit that he may he convinced 
of sin. 

Man universally is a sinner, and yet he needs in 
every single instance to be made aware of it. 
" There is none good, no, not one ; " and yet out of 
the millions of the race how very few feel this 
truth ! Not only does man sin, but he adds to his 
guilt by remaining ignorant of it. The criminal in 
this instance also, as in our courts of law, feels and 
confesses his crime no faster than it is proved to 
him. Through what blindness of mind, and hard- 
ness of heart, and insensibility of conscience, is the 
Holy Spirit obliged to force His way, before there 
is a sincere acknowledgment of sin before God ' 
The careful investigations, the persevering question- 
ings and cross-questionings, by which, before a hu- 
man tribunal, the wilful and unrepenting criminal 
is forced to see and acknowledge his wickedness, 



132 THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES. 



are but faint emblems of that thorough work that 
must be wrought by the Holy Ghost, before the hu 
man soul, at a higher tribunal, forsaking its refuges 
of lies, and desisting from its subterfuges and palli- 
ations, smites upon the breast, and cries, " God be 
merciful to me a sinner ! " Think how much of our 
sin has occurred in total apathy, and indifference, 
and how unwilling we are to have any distinct con- 
sciousness upon this subject. It is only now and 
then that we feel ourselves to be sinners ; but it is 
by no means only now and then that we are sinners. 
We sin habitually ; we are conscious of sin rarely. 
Our affections and inclinations and motives are evil, 
and only evil, continually ; but our experimental 
knowledge that they are so comes not often into 
our mind, and what is worse stays not long, because 
we dislike it. 

The conviction of sin, with what it includes and 
leads to, is of more worth to man than all other 
convictions. Conviction of any sort, — a living 
practical consciousness of any kind, — is of great 
value, because it is only this species of knowledge 
that moves mankind. Convince a man, that is, give 
him a consciousness, of the truth of a principle in 
politics, in trade, or in religion, and you actuate 
him politically, commercially, or religiously. Con- 
vince a criminal of bis crime, that is, endue him 
with a conscious feeling of his criminality, and you 
make him burn with electric fire. A convicted man 
is a man thoroughly conscious ; and a thoroughly con 



THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES. 133 



scious man is a deeply moved one* And this is 
true, with emphasis, of the conviction of sin. This 
consciousness produces a deeper and more lasting 
effect than all others. Convince a community of 
the justice or injustice of a certain class of political 
principles, and you stir it very deeply, and broadly, 
as the history of all democracies clearly shows ; but 
let society be once convinced of sin before the holy 
and righteous God, and deep calleth unto deep, 
all the waters are moved. Never is a mass of hu- 
man beings so centrally stirred, as when the Spirit 
of God is poured out upon it, and from no move- 
ment in human society do such lasting aud blessed 
consequences flow, as from a genuine revival of re- 
ligion. 

But here again, as in reference to the eternal state, 
there is no realizing sense. Conviction of sin is not 
a characteristic of mankind at large. Men gener- 
ally will acknowledge in words that they are sinners, 
but they wait for some far-distant day to come, 
when they shall be pricked in the heart, and feel the 
truth of what they say. Men generally are not con- 
scious of the dreadful reality of sin, any more than 
they are of the solemn reality of eternity. A deep 
insensibility, in this respect also, precludes a prac- 
tical knowledge of that guilt in the soul, which, if 
unpardoned and unremoved, will just as surely ruin 
it as God lives and the soul is immortal. Since, 
then, if man be left to his own inclination, he never 

will be convinced of sin, it is plain that some Agent 
7 



134 THE NECESSITY OF DFVINE INFLUENCES. 



wlio has the power must overcome his aversion to 
self-knowledge, and bring him to consciousness upon 
this unwelcome subject. If any one of us, for the 
remainder of our days, should be given over to that 
ordinary indifference towards sin with which we 
walk these streets, and transact business, and enjoy 
life ; if God's truth should never again in this world 
stab the conscience, and God's Spirit should never 
again make us anxious ; is it not infallibly certain 
that the future would be as the past, and that we 
should go through this " accepted time and day of 
salvation" unconvicted and therefore unconvert- 
ed ? 

But besides this destitution of the experimental 
sense of sin, another ground of the need of Divine 
agency is found in the blindness of the natural 
mind. Man's vision of spiritual things, even when 
they are set before his eyes, is dim and inadequate 
The Christian ministry is greatly hindered, because it 
cannot illuminate the human understanding, and 
impart the power of a keen spiritual insight. It is 
compelled to present the objects of sight, but it can- 
not give the eye to see them. Vision depends alto- 
gether upon the condition of the organ. The eye 
sees only what it brings the means of seeing. 
The scaled eye of a worldling, or a debauchee, 
or a self-righteous man, cannot see that sin of the 
heart, that "spiritual wickedness," at which men 
like Paul and Isaiah stood aghast. These were men 
whose character compared with that of the world- 



THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES. 135 



ling was saintly; men whose shoes 1 latchets the 
worldling is not worthy to stoop clown and unloose. 
And yet they saw a depravity within their own 
hearts which he does not see in his ; a depravity 
which he cannot see, and which he steadily denies 
to exist, until he is enlightened by the Holy Ghost. 

But the preacher has no power to impart this clear 
spiritual discernment. He cannot arm the eye of 
the natural man with that magnifying and micro- 
scopic power, by which hatred shall be seen to be 
murder, and lust, adultery, and the least swelling of 
pride, the sin of Lucifer. He is compelled, by the 
testimony of the Bible, of the wise and the holy of 
all time, and of his own consciousness, to tell every 
unregenerate man that he is no better than his race ; 
that he certainly is no better than the Christian 
Church which continually confesses and mourns 
over indwelling sin. The faithful preacher of the 
word is obliged to insist that there is no radical 
difference among men, and that the depravity of the 
man of irreproachable morals but unrenewed heart 
is as total as was that of the great preacher to the 
Gentiles, — a man of perfectly irreproachable morals, 
but who confess thst he was the chief of sinners, 
and feared lest h ? should be a cast-away. But the 
preacher of this unwelcome message has no power 
to open the blind eye. He cannot endow the self- 
ignorant and incredulous man before him, with that 
consciousness of the "plague of the heart" which 
says "yea" to the most vivid description of human 



136 THE NECESSITY OE DIVINE INFLUENCES. 



sinfulness, and " amen " to God's heaviest maledic- 
tion upon it. The preacher's position would be far 
easier, if there might be a transfer of experience ; if 
some of that bitter painful sense of sin with which 
the stru^lincr Christian is burdened mi^ht now 
over into the easy, unvexed, and thoughtless souls 
of the men of this world. Would that the con- 
sciousness upon this subject of sin, of a Paul or a 
Luther, mio'ht delude that lar^e multitude of men 
who doubt or deny the doctrine of human deprav- 
ity. The materials for that consciousness, the items 
that go to make up that experience, exist as really 
and as plentifully in your moral state and character, 
as they do in that of the mourning and self-reproach- 
ing Christian who sits by your side, — your devout 
father, your saintly mother, or sister, — whom you 
know, and who you know is a better being than you 
are. Why should they be weary and heavy-laden 
with a sense of their unworthiness before God, and 
you 2fo through life indifferent and lio\ht-hearted \ 
Are they deluded in respect to the doctrine of hu- 
man de]3ravity, and are you in the right ? Think 
you that the deathbed and the day of judgment will 
prove this to be the fact ? No ! if you shall ever 
know anything of the Christian struggle with innate 
corruption ; if you shall ever, in the expressive 
phrase of Scripture, have your senses exercised as in 
a gymnasium 1 to discern good and evil, and see 



Td aiodij-Tjpia yeyvfivacueva. Heb. V. 14. 



THE NECESSITY OE DIVINE INFLUENCES. 137 



yourself with self-abhorrence ; your views will har- 
monize most profoundly and exactly with theirs. 
And, furthermore, you will not in the process create 
any new sinfulness. You will merely see the exist- 
ing depravity of the human heart. You will sim- 
ply see what is, — is now, in your heart, and in all 
human hearts, and has been from the beginning:. 

But all this is the work of a more powerful and 
spiritual agency than that of man. The truth may 
be exhibited with perfect transparency and plain- 
ness, the hearer himself may do his utmost to have 
it penetrate and tell ; and yet, there be no vivid 
and vital consciousness of sin. How often does 
the serious and alarmed man say to us : " I know 
it, but I do not feel it." How long and wearily, 
sometimes, does the anxious man struggle after an 
inward sense of these spiritual things, without suc- 
cess, until he learns that an inward sense, an experi- 
mental consciousness, respecting religious truth, is as 
purely a gift and product of God the Spirit as the 
breath of life in his nostrils. Considering, then, 
the natural apathy of man respecting the sin that 
is in his own heart, and the exceeding blindness of 
his mental vision, even when his attention has been 
directed to it, is it not perfectly plain that there 
must be the exertion of a Divine agency, in order 
that he may pass through even the first and lowest 
stages of the religious experience? 

In view of the subject, as thus far unfolded,, we 
remark : 



138 THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES. 



1. First, that it is the duty of every one, to take 
the facts in respect to mans character as he finds 
them. Nothing is gained, in any province of human 
thought or action, by disputing actual verities. 
They are stubborn things, and will not yield to 
the wishes and prejudices of the natural heart. 
This is especially true in regard to the facts in 
man's moral and religious condition. The testi- 
mony of Revelation is explicit, that " the carnal 
mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to 
the law of God, neither indeed can be ; " and also, 
that " the natural man receiveth not the things of 
the Spirit, neither can he know them, because they 
are spiritually discerned." According to this Bibli- 
cal statement, there is corruption and blindness 
together. The human heart is at once sinful, and 
ignorant that it is so. It is, therefore, the very 
worst form of evil; a fatal disease unknown 
to the patient, and accompanied with the belief 
that there is perfect health ; sin and guilt with- 
out any just and proper sense of it. This is the 
testimony, and the assertion, of that Being who 
needs not that any should testify to Him of man, 
for he knows what is in man. And this is the 
testimony, also, of every mind that has attained a 
profound self-knowledge. For it is indisputable, 
that in proportion as a man is introspective, and 
accustoms himself to the scrutiny of his motives 
and feelings, he discovers that " the whole head is 
sick, and the whole heart is faint." 



THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES. 



189 



It is, therefore, the duty and wisdom of every 
one to set to Lis seal that God is true, — to have 
this as his motto. Though, as yet, he is destitute 
of a clear conviction of sin, and a godly sorrow for 
it, still he should presume the fact of human de- 
pravity. Good men in every age have found it to be 
a fact, and the infallible Word of God declares that 
it is a fact. What, then, is gained, by proposing 
another than the Biblical theory of human nature ? 
Is the evil removed by denying its existence \ Will 
the mere calling men good at heart, and by nature 
make them such ? 

" Who can hold a fire in his hand, 
By thinking on the frosty Caucasus ? 
Or cloy the hungry edge of appetite, 
By bare imagination of a feast ? 
Or wallow naked in December snow, 
By thinking on fantastic summer heat ? " 1 

2. In the second place, we remark that it is the 
duty of every one, not to he discouraged by these facts 
and truths relative to the moral condition of man. 
For, one fact conducts to the next one. One truth 
prepares for a second. If it is a solemn and sad 
fact that men are sinners, and blind and dead in 
their trespasses and sin, it is also a cheering fact 
that the Holy Spirit can enlighten the darkest 
understanding, and enliven the most torpid and 
indifferent soul ; and it is a still further, and most 
encouraging truth and fact, that the Holy Spirit is 

1 Shakspeare : Richard II. Act i. Sc. 3. 



140 THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES. 

given to those who ask for it, with more readiness 
than a father gives bread to his hungry child. 
Here, then, we have the fact of sin, and of blindness 
and apathy in sin ; the fact of a mighty power in 
God to convince of sin, of righteousness, and of 
judgment ; and the blessed fact that this power is 
accessible to prayer. Let us put these three facts 
together, all of them, and act accordingly. Then 
we shall be taught by the Spirit, and shall come to 
a salutary consciousness of sin ; and then shall 
be verified in our own experience the words of 
God : " I dwell in the high and holy place, and 
with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, 
to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive 
the heart of the contrite ones." 



THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES. 



Luke xi. 13. — "If ye, then, Toeing evil, know how to give good gifts unto 
your children ; how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Koiy 
Spirit to them that ask him." 

In expounding the doctrine of these words, in 
the preceding discourse, the argument for the neces- 
sity of Divine influences had reference to the more 
general aspects of man's character and condition. 
We were concerned with the origin of seriousness 
in view of a future life, and the production of a sense 
of moral corruption and unfitness to enter eternity. 
We have now to consider the work of the Spirit, in 
its relations, first, to that more distinct sense of sin 
which is denominated the consciousness of guilt, and 
secondly, to that saving act of faith by which the 
atonement of Christ is appropriated by the soul, 
f I. Sin is not man's misfortune, but his fault ; and 
any view that falls short of this fact is radically 
defective. Sin not only brings a corruption and 
bondage, but also a condemnation and penalty, upon 
the self-will that originates it. Sin not only ren- 
ders man unfit for rewards, but also deserving of 
punishment. As one who has disobeyed law of his 
7* 



142 THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES. 

own determination, he is liable not merely to the 
negative loss of blessings, but also to the positive 
infliction of retribution. It is not enough that a 
transgressor be merely let alone ; he must be taken 
in hand and punished. He is not simply a diseased 
man ; he is a criminal. His sin, therefore, requires 
not a removal merely, but also an expiation. 

This relation and reference of transgression to law 
and justice is a fundamental one; and yet it is very 
liable to be overlooked, or at least to be inadequate- 
ly apprehended. The sense of ill-desert is too apt to 
be confused and shallow, in the human soul. Man 
is comparatively ready to acknowledge the misery 
of sin, while he is slow to confess the guilt of it. 
"When the word of God asserts he is poor, and blind, 
and wretched, he is comparatively forward to assent ; 
but when, in addition, it asserts that he deserves 
to be punished everlastingly, he reluctates. Man- 
kind are willing to acknowledge their wretched- 
ness, and be pitied ; but they are not willing to 
acknowledge their guiltiness, and stand condemned 
before law. 

And yet, guilt is the very essence of sin. Extin- 
guish the criminality, and you -extinguish the in- 
most core and heart of moral evil. We may have 
felt that sin is bondage, that it is inward dissension 
and disharmony, that it takes away the true dig- 
nity of our nature, but if we have not also felt that it 
is iniquity and merits penalty, we have not become 
conscious of its most essential quality. It is not 



THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES. 143 



enough that we come before God, saying : " I am 
wretched in my soul; I am weary of my bondage; 
I long for deliverance." We must also say, as we 
look up into that holy Eye : " I am guilty ; O my 
God I deserve thy judgments." In brief, the hu- 
man mind must recognize all the Divine attributes. 
The entire Divine character, in both its justice and 
its love, must rise full-orbed before the soul, when 
thus seeking salvation. It is not enough, that we 
ask God to free us from disquietude, and give us 
repose. Before we do this, and that we may do it 
successfully, we must employ the language of David, 
while under the stings of guilt : " O Lord rebuke 
me not in thy wrath : neither chasten me in thy 
hot displeasure. Be merciful unto me, O God be 
merciful unto me." 

"What is needed is, more consideration of sin 
in its objective, and less in its subjective rela- 
tions ; more sense of it in its reference to the be 
ing and attributes of God, and less sense of it 
in its reference to our own happiness or misery, 
or even to the harmony of our own powers 
and faculties. The adorable being and attri- 
butes of God are of more importance than any 
human soul, immortal though it be ; and what is 
required in the religious experience is, more anxiety 
lest the Divine glorv should be tarnished, and less 
fear that a worm of the dust be made miserable by 
his transgressions. And whatever may be our the- 
ory of the matter, a to this complexion must we 



144 THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES. 



come at last," even in order to onr own peace of 
mind. We must lose our life, in order to find it. 
Even in order to our own inward repose of con- 
science and of heart, there must come a point and 
period in our mental history, when we do actually 
sink self out of sight, and think of sin in its relation 
to the character and government of the great and 
holy God, — when we do see it to be guilt, as well 
as corruption. 

For guilt is a distinct, and a distinguishable qual- 
ity. It is a thing by itself, like the Platonic idea 
of Beauty. 1 It is sin stripped of its accompani- 
ments, — the restlessness, the dissatisfaction, and the 
unhappiness which it produces, — and perceived in 
its pure odiousness and ill-desert. And when thus 
seen, it does not permit the mind to think of any 

thins but the righteous law, and the Divine Char- 
es o " 

acter. In the hour of thorough conviction, the sin- 
ful spirit is lost in the feeling of guiltiness : wholly 
engrossed in the reflection that it has incurred the 
condemnation of the Best Being in the universe. 
It is in distress, not because an Almighty Being can 
make it miserable but, because a Holy and Good 
Being has reason to be displeased with it. When 
it gives utterance to its emotion, it says to its Sov- 
ereign and its Judge: "I am in anguish, more 
because Thou the Holy and the Good art unrecon- 
ciled with me, than because Thou the Omnipotent 

1 'Avro, /ca#' abrb, fied' avrov, uovoeideg. — Plato : Convivium, p. 247, 
Ed. Bipont 



THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES. 145 



canst punish me forever. I refuse not to "be pun- 
ished ; I deserve the inflictions of Thy justice ; only 
forgive, and Thou mayest do what Thou wilt unto 

f me." A soul that is truly penitent has no desire 
to escape penalty, at the expense of principle and 

; law. It says with David: "Thou desirest not sac- 
rifice;" such atonement as I can make is inade- 
quate; "else would I give it." It expresses its 
approbation of the pure justice of God, in the lan- 
guage of the gentlest and sweetest of Mystics : 

" Thou Last no lightnings, Thou Just I 
Or I their force should know; 
And if Thou strike ine into dust, 
My soul approves the blow. 

The heart that values less its ease, 
Than it adores Thy ways, 
In Thine avenging anger, sees 
A subject of its praise. 

Pleased I could lie, concealed and lost, 
In shades of central night; 
Not to avoid Thy wrath, Thou know'st, 
But lest I grieve Thy sight. 

Smite me, Thou whom I provoke I 
And I will love Thee still ; 
The well deserved and righteous stroke 
Shall please me, though it kill." 1 

Now, it is only when the human spirit is under 
the illuminating, and discriminating influences of the 

1 Guyon: translated by Cowper, is expressed by Vaughan in 
Works III. 85. — A similar thought " The Eclipse." 

"Thy anger I could kiss, and will ; 
But O Thy grief, Thy grief doth kill." 



146 THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES, 



Holy Ghost, that it possesses this pore and genuine 
sense of guilt. Worldly losses, trials, warnings by 
God's providence, may rouse the sinner, and make 
him solemn ; but unless the Spirit of Grace enters 
his heart he does not feel that he is ill- deserving. 
He is sad and fearful, respecting the fature life, and 
perhaps supposes that this state of mind is one of 
true conviction, and wonders that it does not end in 
conversion, and the joy of pardon. But if he would 
examine it, he would discover that it is full of the 
lust of self. He would find that he is merely unhap- 
py, and restless, and afraid to die. If he should ex- 
amine the workings of his heart, he would discover 
that they are only another form of self-love; that 
instead of being anxious about self in the present 
world, he has become anxious about self in the fu- 
ture world ; that instead of looking out for his 
happiness here, he has begun to look out for it here- 
after ; that in fact he has merely transferred sin, from 
time and its relations, to eternity and its relations. 
Such sorrow as this needs to be sorrowed for, and 
such repentance as this needs to be repented of. 
Such conviction as this needs to be laid open, and 
have its defect shown. After a course of wrong- 
doing, it is not sufficient for man to come before the 
Holy One, making mention of his wretchedness, 
and desire for happiness, but making no mention of 
his culpability, and desert of righteous and holy 
judgments. It is not enough for the criminal to 
plead for life, however earnestly, while he avoids 



THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES. 147 

tlie acknowledgment that death is his just clue. 
For silence in such a connection as this, is denial. 
The impenitent thief upon the cross was clamorous 
for life and happiness, saying, "If thou be the Christ, 
save thyself and us. 1 ' He said nothing concerning 
the crime that had brought him to a malefactor's 
death, and thereby showed that it did not weigh 
heavy upon his conscience. But the real penitent 
rebuked him, saying: " Dost thou not fear God, see- 
ing thou art in the same condemnation ? And we 
indeed justly ; for we receive the due reward of our 
deeds." And then followed that meek and broken- 
hearted supplication : " Lord remember me," which 
drew forth the world-renowned answer: "This day 
shalt thou be with me in paradise." 

In the fact, then, that man's experience of sin is 
so liable to be defective upon the side of guilt, we 
find another necessity for the teaching of the Holy 
Spirit; for a spiritual agency that cannot be de- 
ceived, which pierces to the dividing asunder of the 
soul and spirit, and is a discerner of the real intent 
and feeling; of the heart. 

II. In the second place, man needs the influences 
of the Holy Spirit, in order that 7^ may actually ap- 
propriate Christ'' s atonement for sin. 

The feeling of ill-desert, of which we have spo- 
ken, requires an expiation, in order to its extinction, 
precisely as the burning sensation of thirst needs the 
cop of cold water, in order that it may be allayed. 
When the sense of guilt is awakened in its pure 



148 THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES. 



and genuine form, by the Holy Spirit's operation, 
the soul craves the atonement, — it wants the dying 
Lamb of God. We often speak of a believer's 
longings after purity, after peace, after joy. There 
is an appetency for them. In like manner, there is 
in the illuminated and guilt-smitten conscience an 
appetency for the piacular work of Christ, as that 
which alone can give it pacification. Contemplated 
from this point of view,there is not a more rational 
doctrine within the whole Christian system, than 
i that of the Atonement. Anything that ministers 
to a distinct and legitimate craving in man is rea- 
sonable, and necessary. That theorist, therefore, 
who would evince the unreasonableness of the aton- 
ing work of the Redeemer, must first evince the un- 
reasonableness of the consciousness of guilt, and of 
the judicial craving of the conscience. He must 
show the Groundlessness of that fundamental and or- 
ganic feeling which imparts such a blood-red color 
to all the religions of the globe ; be they Pagan, 
Jewish, or Christian. Whenever, therefore, this 
sensation of ill-desert is elicited, and the soul feels 
consciously criminal before the Everlasting Judge, 
the difficulties that beset the doctrine of the Cross 
all vanish in the craving, in the appetency, of the 
conscience, for acquittal through the substituted suf- 
ferings of the Son of God. He who has been 
taught by the Spirit respecting the iniquity of sin, 
and views it in its relations to the Divine holiness, 
has no wish to be pardoned at the expense of jus- 



THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES. 140 



tice. His conscience is now jealous for the majesty 
of God, and the dignity of His government. He 
now experimentally understands that great truth 
which has its foundation in the nature of guilt, and 
consequently in the method of Redemption, — the 
great ethical truth, that after an accountable agent 
has stained himself with crime, there is from the ne- 
cessity of the case no remission without the satis- 
faction of law. 

But it is one thing to acknowledge this in theory, 
and even to feel the need of Christ's atonement, and 
still another thing to really appropriate it. Unbe- 
lief and despair have great power over a guilt- 
stricken mind ; and were it not for that Spirit who 
" takes of the things of Christ and shows them to 
the soul," sinful man would in every instance suc- 
cumb under their awful paralysis. For, if the truth 
and Spirit of Cod should merely convince the sin- 
ner of his guilt, but never apply the atoning blood 
of the Redeemer, hell would be in him and he would 
be in hell. If Cod, coming forth as He justly might 
only in His judicial character, should confine Him- 
self to a convicting operation in the conscience, — 
should make the transgressor feel his guilt, and then 
leave him to the feeling and with the feeling, for- 
evermore, — this would be eternal death. And if, 
as any man shall lie down upon his death-bed, lie 
shall find that owing to his past quenching of the 
Spirit the illuminating energy of Cod is searching 
him, and revealing him to himself, but does not as- 



150 THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES. 



sist him to look up to the Saviour of sinners ; and 
if, in the day of judgment, as he draws near the bar 
of an eternal doom, he shall discover that the sense 
of guilt grows deeper and deeper, while the atoning 
blood is not applied, — if this shall be the experi- 
ence of any one upon his death-bed, and in the day 
of judgment, will he need to be told what he is 
and whither he is going? 

Now it is with reference to these disclosures that 
come in like a deluge upon him, that man needs the 
aids and operation of the Holy Spirit. Ordinarily, 
nearly the whole of his guilt is latent within him. 
He is, commonly, undisturbed by conscience; but 
it would be a fatal error to infer that therefore he 
has a clear and innocent conscience. There is 
a vast amount of undeveloped guilt within every 
impenitent soul. It is slumbering there, as surely 
as magnetism is in the magnet, and the electric 
fluid is in the piled-up thunder-cloud. For there 
are moments when the sinful soul feels this hid- 
den criminality, as there are moments when the 
magnet shows its power, and the thunder-cloud 
darts its nimble and forked lightnings. Else, why 
do these pangs and fears shoot and flash through it, 
every now and then ? Why does the drowning man 
instinctively ask for God's mercy ? Were his con- 
science pure and clear from guilt, like that of the 
angel or the seraph, — were there no latent crime 
within him, — he would sink into the unfathomed 
depths of the sea, without the thought of such a cry. 



THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES. 151 



When the traveller in South America sees the 
smoke and flame of the volcano, here and there, as 
he passes along, he is justified in inferring that a 
vast central fire is burning beneath the whole re- 
gion. In like manner, when man discovers, as be 
watches the phenomena of his conscience, that guilt 
every now and then emerges like a flash of flame 
into consciousness, filling him with fear and dis- 
tress, — when he finds that he has no security against 
this invasion, but that in an hour when he thinks 
not, and commonly when he is weakest and faintest, 
in his moments of danger or death, it stints him and 
wounds him, he is justified in inferring, and he must 
infer, that the deep places of his spirit, the whole 
potentiality of his soul is full of crime. 

Now, in no condition of the soul is there greater 
need of the agency of the Comforter (O well named 
the Comforter), than when all this latency is suddenly 
manifested to a man. When this delude of disco v- 
ery comes in, all the billows of doubt, fear, terror, 
and despair roll over the soul, and it sinks in the 
deep waters. The sense of guilt, — -that awful guilt, 
which the man has carried about with him for many 
long years, and which he has trifled with, — now 
proves too great for him to control. It seizes him 
like a strong armed man. If he could only believe 
that the blood of the Lamb of God expiates all 
this crime which is so appalling to his mind, he 
would be at peace instantaneously. But he is unable 
to believe this. His sin, which heretofore looked 



152 THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES. 



too small to be noticed, now appears too great to 
be forgiven. Other men may be pardoned, but not 
he. He despairs of mercy ; and if he should be left 
to the natural workings of his own mind ; if he 
should not be taught and assisted by the Holy 
Ghost, in this critical moment, to behold the Lamb of 
God ; he would despair forever. For this sense of ill- 
desert, this fearful looking-for of judgment and fiery 
indignation, with which he is wrestling, is organic 
to the conscience, and the human will has no more 
power over it than it has over the sympathetic nerve. 
Only as he is taught by the Divine Spirit, is he able 
with perfect calmness to look up from this brink of 
despair, and say : " There is no condemnation to 
them that are in Christ Jesus. The blood of Jesus 
Christ cleanseth from all sin. Therefore, being jus- 
tified by faith we have peace with God through our 
Lord Jesus Christ. I know whom I have be- 
lieved, and am persuaded that he is able to keep 
that which I have committed unto him against that 
day." 

In view of the truths which we have now consid- 
ered, it is worthy of observation : 

1. First, that the Holy Spirit constitutes the tie, 
and bond of connection, betioeenman and God. The 
third Person in the Godhead is very often regarded 
as more distant from the human soul, than either 
jthe Father or the Son. In the history of the doc- 
trine of the Trinity, the definition of the Holy Spirit, 
and the discrimination of His relations in the econ- 



THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES. 153 



oray of the Godhead, was not settled until after the 
doctrine of the first and second Persons had been 
established. Something analogous to this appears 
in the individual experience. God the Father and 
God the Son are more in the thoughts of many be- 
lievers, than God the Holy Ghost. And yet, we 
have seen that in the economy of Redemption, and 
from the very nature of the case, the soul is brought 
as close to the Spirit, as to the Father and Son. 
Nay, it is only through the inward operations of 
the former, that the latter are made real to the heart 
and mind of man. Not until the third Person en- 
lightens, are the second and first Persons beheld. 
" No man," says St. Paul, " can- say that Jesus is the 
Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." 

The sinful soul is entirely dependent upon the 
Divine Spirit, and from first to last it is in most in- 
timate communication with Him during the process 
of salvation. It is enlightened by His influence ; 
it is enlivened by Him ; it is empowered by Him 
to the act of faith in Christ's Person and Work ; it 
is supported and assisted by Him, in every step of 
the Christian race ; it is comforted by Him in all 
trials and tribulations ; and, lastly, it is perfected 
in holiness, and fitted for the immediate presence 
of God, by Him. Certainly, then, the believer 
should have as full faith in the distinct personality, 
and immediate efficiency, of the third Person, as he 
has in that of the first and second. His most affec- 
tionate feeling should centre upon that Blessed 



154 THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES. 



Agent, through whom he appropriates the blessings 
that have been provided for sinners by the Father 
and Son, and without whose influence the Father 
would have planned the Redemptive scheme, and 
the Son have executed it, in vain. 

2. In the second place, it is deserving of very 
careful notice that the influences of the Holy Spirit 
may he obtained by ashing for them. This is the 
only condition to be complied with. And this gift, 
furthermore, is peculiar, in that it is invariably be- 
stowed whenever it is sincerely implored. There 
are other gifts of God which may be asked for with 
deep and agonizing desire, and it is not certain that 
+hey will be granted. This is the case with tem- 
poral blessings. A sick man may turn his face to 
the wall, with Hezekiah, and pray in the bitterness 
of his soul, for the prolongation of his life, and yet 
not obtain the answer which Hezekiah received. 
But no man ever supplicated in the earnestness of 
his soul for the influences of the Holy Spirit, and 
was ultimately refused. For this is a gift which it 
is always safe to grant. It involves a spiritual and 
everlasting good. It is the gift of righteousness, 
of the fear and love of God in the heart. There is 
no danger in such a bestowment. It inevitably 
promotes the glory of God. Hence our Lord, 
after bidding his hearers to " ask," to " seek," and 
to "knock," adds, as the encouraging reason why 
they should do so : " For, every one that asketh 
receiveth ; and he that seeketh, [always] findeth ; 



THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES. 155 



' and to him tk*.t knocketk, it shall [certainly] 
be opened." This is a reason that cannot be as- 
signed in the instance of other prayers. Onr Lord 
commands his disciples to pray for their daily 
bread ; and we know that the children of God do 
generally find their wants supplied. Still, it would 
not be true that every one who in the sincerity of 
his soul has asked for daily bread has received it. 
The children of God have sometimes died of hun- 
ger. But no soul that has ever hungered for the 
bread of heaven, and supplicated for it, has been 
sent empty away. Nay more : Whoever finds it in 
his heart to ask for the Holy Spirit may know, 
from this very fact, that the Holy Spirit has antici- 
pated him, and has prompted the very prayer itself. 
And think you that God will not grant a request 
which He himself has inspired \ And therefore, 
again, it is, that every one who asks invariably re- 
ceives. 

3. The third remark suggested by the subject we 
have been considering is, that it is exceedingly haz- 
ardous to resist Divine influences. " Quench not 
the Spirit" is one of the most imperative of the 
Apostolic injunctions. Our Lord, after saying that 
I a word spoken against Himself is pardonable, adds, 
that he that blasphemes against the Holy Ghost 
shall never be forgiven, neither in this world nor 
in the world to come. The New Testament sur- 
rounds the subject of Divine influences with very 
great solemnity. It represents the resisting of the 



156 THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES. 



Holy Ghost to be as heinous, and dangerous, as the 
trampling upon Christ's blood. 

There is a reason for this. We have seen that in 
this operation upon the mind and heart, God comes 
as near, and as close to man, as it is possible for 
Him to come. Now to grieve or oppose such a 
merciful, and such an inward agency as this, is to 
offer the highest possible affront to the majesty 
and the mercy of God. It is a great sin to slight 
the gifts of Divine providence, — to misuse health, 
strength, wealth, talents. It is a deep sin to con- 
temn the truths of Divine Revelation, by which the 
soul is made wise unto eternal life. It is a fearful 
sin to despise the claims of God the Father, and 
God the Son. But it is a transcendent sin to re- 
sist and beat back, after it lias been given, that mys- 
terious, that holy, that immediately Divine influ- 
ence, by which alone the heart of stone can be 
made the heart of flesh. For, it indicates some- 
thing more than the ordinary carelessness of a sin- 
ner. It evinces a determined obstinacy in sin, — 
nay, a Satanic opposition to God and _ goodness. 
It is of such a guilt as 'this, that the apostle John 
remarks: u There is a sin unto death; I do not 
say that one should pray for it." 1 

1 The sin against the Holy the third Person of the Trinity 

Ghost is unpardonable, not be- which is the only power adequate 

cause there is a grade of guilt in to the extirpation of sin from the 

it too scarlet to be washed white human soul. The sin against the 

by Chrises blood of atonement Holy Ghost is tantamount, there- 

but, because it implies a total fore, to everlasting sin. And it 

quonching of that operation of is noteworthy, that in Mark iii. 



THE NECESSITY OE DIVINE INFLUENCES. 157 

Again, it is exceedingly hazardous to resist Divine 
influences, because they depend wholly upon the 
good pleasure of God, and not at all upon any es- 
tablished and uniform law. We must not, for a 
moment, suppose that the operations of the Holy 
Spirit upon the human soul are like those of tlie 
forces of nature upon the molecules of matter. They 
are not uniform and unintermittent, like gravitation 
and chemical affinity. We may avail ourselves of 
the powers of nature at any moment, because they 
are steadily operative by an established law. They 
are laboring incessantly, and we may enter into 
their labors at any instant we please. But it is not 
so with supernatural and gracious influences. God's 
awakening and renewing power does not operate 
with the uniformity of those blind natural laws 
which He has impressed upon the dull clod beneath 
our feet. God is not one of the forces of nature. 
He is a Person and a Sovereign. His special and 
highest action upon the human soul is not uniform. 
His Spirit, He expressly teaches us, does not always 
strive with man. It is a wind that bloweth when 
and where it listeth. For this reason, it is danger- 
ous to the religious interests of the soul, in the 
highest degree, to go counter to any impulses of 
the Spirit, however slight, or to neglect any of His 
admonitions, however gentle. If God in mercy has 

29 the reading auapTrjuaroe, instead mann, Teschendorf, and Tregelles. 

of KpiGEoq, is supported by a major- " He that shall blaspheme against 

ity of the 1 oldest manuscripts and the Holy Ghost is in danger 

versions, and is adopted by Lach- of eternal sin." 
8 



158 THE NECESSITY OF DIVIDE INFLUENCES. 

once come in upon a thoughtless mind, and wa- 
kened it to eternal realities ; if He has enlightened it 
to perceive the things that make for its peace ; and 
that mind slights this merciful interference, and 
stifles down these inward teachings, then God with- 
draws, and whether He will ever return ao-ain to 
that soul depends upon His mere sovereign volition. 
He has bound himself by no promise to do so. He 
has established no uniform law of operation, in the 
case. It is true that He is very pitiful and of ten- 
der mercy, and waits and bears long with the sin- 
ner ; and it is also true, that He is terribly severe 
and just, when He thinks it proper to be so, and 
says to those who have despised His Spirit : 
" Because I have called and ye refused, and have 
stretched out my hand, and no man regarded, I 
will laugh at your calamity, and mock when your 
fear cometh." 

' Let no one say : " God has promised to bestow 
the Holy Ghost to every one who asks : I will ask 
at some future time." To " ask" for the Holy Spirit 
implies some already existing desire that He would 
enter the mind and convince of sin, and convert to 
God. It implies some craving, some yearning, for 
Divine influence' ; and this implies some measure 
of such influence already bestowed. Man asks for 
the Holy Spirit, only as he is moved by the Holy 
Spirit. The Divine is ever prevenient to the human. 
Suppose now, that a man resists these influences 
when they are already at work within him, and 



THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES. 159 



says : " I will seek them at a more convenient sea- 
son." Think you, that when that convenient season 
comes round, — when life is waning, and the world 
is receding, and the eternal gulf is yawning, — think 
you that that man who has already resisted grace 
can make his own heart to yearn for it, and his 
soul to crave it ? Do men at such times find that 
sincere desires, and longings, and aspirations, 
come at their beck? Can a man say, with any 
prospect of success : " I will now quench out this 
seriousness which the Spirit of God has produced 
in my mind, and will bring it np again ten years 
hence. I will stifle this drawing of the Eternal 
Father of my soul which I now feel at the roots 
of my being, and it shall re-appear at a future 
day." 

No ! While it is true that any one who " asks," 
who really wants a spiritual blessing, will obtain 
it, it is equally true that a man may have no heart 
to ask, — may have no desire, no yearning, no aspira- 
tion at all, and be unable to produce one. In this 
^ case there is no promise. Whosoever thirsts, and 
\only he who thirsts, can obtain the water of life. 
Cherish, therefore, the faintest influences and opera- 
tions of the Comforter. If He enlightens your con- 
science so that it reproaches you for sin, seek to 
have the work go on. Never resist any such con- 
victions, and never attempt to stifle them. If the 
Holy Spirit urges you to confession of sin before 
God, yield instantaneously to His urging, and pour 



160 THE NECESSITY OF DIVINE INFLUENCES. 



out your soul before the All-Merciful. And when 
He says, " Behold the Lamb of God," look where 
He points, and be at peace and at rest. The secret 
of all spiritual success is an immediate and uniform 
submission to the influences of the Holv Ghost. 



THE IMPOTENCE OF THE LAW. 



Hebrews vii. 19. — "For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in 
of a better hope did ; by the which we draw nigh to God." 



It is the aim of the Epistle to the Hebrews, to 
teach the insufficiency of the Jewish Dispensation to 
save the human race from the wrath of God and 
the power of sin, and the all-sufficiency of the Gos- 
pel Dispensation to do this. Hence, the writer of 
this Epistle endeavors with special effort to make 
the Hebrews feel the weakness of their old and 
much esteemed religion, and to show them that the 
only benefit which God intended by its establish- 
ment was, to point men to the perfect and final re- 
ligion of the Gospel. This he does, by examining 
the parts of the Old Economy. In the first place, 
the sacrifices under the Mosaic law were not de- 
signed to extinguish the sense of guilt, — " for it is 
not possible that the blood of bulls and goats 
should take away sin," — but were intended merely 
to awaken the sense of guilt, and thereby to lead 
the Jew to look to that mercy of God which at a fu- 
ture day was to be exhibited in the sacrifice of his 



162 . THE IMPOTENCE OF THE LAW. 



eternal Son. The Jewish priesthood, again, stand- 
ing between the sinner and God, were not able to 
avert the Divine displeasure, — for as sinners they 
were themselves exposed to it. They could only 
typify, and direct the guilty to, the great High Priest, 
the Messiah, whom God's mercy would send in the 
fulness of time. Lastly, the moral laiv, proclaimed 
amidst the thunderings and lightnings of Sinai, had 
no power to secure obedience, but only a fearful 
power to produce the consciousness of disobedience, 
and of exposure to a death far more awful than that 
threatened against the man who should touch the 
burning mountain. 

It was, thus, the design of God, by this legal and 
preparatory dispensation, to disclose to man his 
ruined and helpless condition, and his need of look- 
ing to Him for everything that pertains to redemp- 
tion. And he did it, by so arranging the dispensa- 
tion that the Jew might, as it were, make the trial 
and see if he could be his own Redeemer. He in 
stituted a long and burdensome round of observan- 
ces, by means of which the Jew might, if possible, 
extinguish the remorse of his conscience, and pro- 
duce the peace of G^d in his soul. God seems by 
the sacrifices under the law, and the many and 
costly offerings which the Jew was commanded to 
bring into the temple of the Lord, to have virtually 
said to him : " Thou art guilty, and My wrath right- 
eously abides within thy conscience, — yet, do what 
thou canst to free thyself from it ; free thyself from 



THE IMPOTENCE OF THE LAW. 



163 



it if thou canst ; brins: an offering and come before 
Me. But. when thou hast found that thy conscience 
still remains perturbed and unpacified, and thy 
heart still continues corrupt and sinful, then look 
away from thy agency and thy offering, to My clem- 
ency and My offering, — trust not in these finite sac- 
rifices of the lamb and the goat, but let them merely 
remind thee of the infinite sacrifice which in the 
fulness of time I will provide for the sin of the 
world, — and thy peace shall be as a river, and thy 
righteousness as the waves of the sea." 

But the proud and legal spirit of the Jew blind- 
ed him, and he did not perceive the true meaning 
and intent of his national religion. He made it an 
end, instead of a mere means to an end. Hence, it 
became a mechanical round of observances, kept up 
by custom, and eventually lost the power, which it 
had in the earlier and better ages of the Jewish 
commonwealth, of awakening the feeling of guilt 
and the sense of the need of a Redeemer. Thus, in 
the days of our Saviour's appearance upon the earth, 
the chosen guardians of this religion, which was in- 
tended to make men humble, and feel their person 
al ill-desert and need of mercy, had become self-sat- 
isfied and self-righteous. A religion designed to 
prompt the utterance of the greatest of its proph- 
ets : " Woe is me ! I am a man of unclean lips, and I 
dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips," now 
prompted the utterance of the Pharisee : " I thank 
Thee that I am not as other men are." 



164 



THE IMPOTENCE OF THE LAW. 



The Jew, in the times of our Saviour and his 
Apostles, had thus entirely mistaken the nature and 
purpose of the Old dispensation, and hence was the 
most "bitter opponent of the New. He rested in the 
formal and ceremonial sacrifice of bulls and goats, 
and therefore counted the blood of the Son of God 
an unholy thing. He thought to appear before Him 
in whose sight the heavens are not clean, clothed 
in his own righteousness, and hence despised the 
righteousness of Christ. In reality, he appealed to 
the justice of God, and therefore rejected the relig- 
ion of mercy. 

But, this spirit is not confined to the Jew. It 
pervades the human race. Man is naturally a le- 
galist. He desires to be justified by his own char- 
acter and his own works, and reluctates at the 
thought of being accepted upon the ground of an- 
other's merits. This Judaistic spirit is seen wher- 
ever there is none of the publican's feeling when he 
said, " God be merciful to me a sinner." All confi- 
dence in personal virtue, all appeals to civil integ- 
rity, all attendance upon the ordinances of the Chris- 
tian religion without the exercise of the Christian's 
penitence and faith, is, in reality, an exhibition of 
that same legal unevangelic spirit which in its ex- 
treme form inflated the Pharisee, and led him to 
tithe mint anise and cummin. Man's so general re- 
jection of the Son of God as suffering the just for 
the unjust, as the manifestation of the Divine clem- 
ency towards a criminal, is a sign either that he i3 



THE IMPOTENCE OF TIIE LAW. 



165 



insensible of Lis guilt, or else that being somewhat 
conscious of it he thinks to cancel it himself. 

Still, think and act as men may, the method of 
God in the Gospel is the only method. Other foun- 
dation can no man lay than is laid. For it rests 
upon stubborn facts, and inexorable principles. 
God knows that however anxiously a transgressor 
may strive to pacify his conscience, and prepare it 
for the judgment-day, its deep remorse can be re- 
moved only by the blood of incarnate Deity ; that 
however sedulously he may attempt to obey the law, 
he will utterly fail, unless he is inwardly renewed 
and strengthened by the Holy Ghost. He knows 
that mere bare law can make no sinner perfect 
again, but that only the bringing in of a "better 
hope " can, — a hope by the which we draw nigh to 
God. 

The text leads us to inquire : Why cannot the 
moral law make fallen man perfect? Or, in other 
words : Why cannot the ten commandments save a 
sinner t 

That we may answer this question, we must first 
understand what is meant by a perfect man. It is 
one in whom there is no defect or fault of any 
kind, — one, therefore, who has no perturbation in 
his conscience, and no sin in his heart. It is a man 
who is entirely at peace with himself, and with God, 
and whose affections are in perfect conformity with 
the Divine law. 

But fallen man, man as we find him universally, 

8* 



166 



THE IMPOTENCE OE THE LAW. 



is characterized by "both a remorseful conscience 
and an evil heart. His conscience distresses him, 
not indeed uniformly and constantly but, in the great 
emergencies of his life, — in the hour of sickness, 
clanger, death, — and his heart is selfish and corrupt 
continually. He lacks perfection, therefore, in two 
particulars ; first, in respect to acquittal at the bar 
of justice, and secondly, in respect to inward purity. 
That, therefore, which proposes to make him per- 
fect again, must quiet the sense of guilt upon valid 
grounds, and must produce a holy character. If 
the method fails in either of these two respects, it 
fails altogether in making a perfect man. 

But how can the moral law, or the ceremonial 
law, or both united, produce within the human soul 
the cheerful, liberating, sense of acquittal, and re- 
conciliation with Grod's justice \ Why, the very 
function and office-work of law, in all its forms, is to 
condemn and terrify the transgressor ; how then can 
it calm and soothe him ? Or, is there anything in 
the performance of duty, — in the act of obeying 
law, — that is adapted to produce this result, by tak- 
ing away guilt ? Suppose that a murderer could 
and should perform a perfectly holy act, would it 
be any relief to bis anguished conscience, if he 
should offer it as an oblation to Eternal Justice for 
the sin that is past \ if he should plead it as an off- 
set for having killed a man \ When we ourselves 
review the past, and see that we have not kept the 
law up to the present point in our lives, is the gnaw- 



THE IMPOTENCE OF THE LAW. 



167 



i ing of the worm to be stopped, by resolving to keep 
it, and actually keeping it from this point ? Can 
such a use of the law as this is, — can the perform- 

) ance of good works, imaginary or real ones, im- 
perfect or perfect ones, — discharge the office of an 
atonement, and so make us perfect in the forum of 
conscience, and fill us with a deep and lasting sense 
of reconciliation with the offended majesty and jus- 
tice of God \ Plainly not. For there is nothing 
compensatory, nothing cancelling, nothing of the 
nature of a satisfaction of justice, in the best obe- 
dience that was ever rendered to moral law, by 

r saint, angel, or seraph. Because the creature oives 
the whole. He is obligated from the very first in- 
stant of his existence, onward and evermore, to love 
God supremely, and to obey him perfectly in every 
act and element of his being. Therefore, the per- 
fectly obedient saint, angel, and seraph must each 
say: "I am an unprofitable servant, I have done 
only that which it was my duty to do ; I can make 
no amends for past failures ; I can do no work that 
is meritorious and atoning." Obedience to law. 
then, by a creature, and still less by a sinner, can 
never atone for the sins that are past ; can never 
make the guilty perfect "in things pertaining to 
conscience." And if a man, in this indirect and 
roundabout manner, neglects the provisions of the 
gospel, neglects the oblation of Jesus Christ, and 
betakes himself to the discharge of his own duty as 
a substitute therefor, he only finds that the flame 



168 



THE IMPOTENCE OF THE LAW. 



burns hotter, and the fang of the worm is sharper. 
If he looks to the moral law in any form, and by 
any method, that he may get quit of his remorse and 
his fears of judgment, the feeling of unreconcilia- 
tion with justice, and the fearful looking-for of judg- 
ment is only made more vivid and deep. Whoever 
attempts the discharge of duties for the purpose of 
atoning for his sins takes a direct method of increas- 
ing the pains and perturbations which he seeks to 
remove. The more he thinks of law, and the more 
he endeavors to obey it for the purpose of purchas- 
ing the pardon of past transgression, the more 
l wretched does he become. Look into the lacerated 
conscience of Martin Luther before he found the 
Cross, examine the anxiety and gloom of Chalmers 
before he saw the Lamb of God, for proof that this 
is so. These men, at first, were most earnest in their 
use of the law in order to re-instate themselves in 
right relations with God's justice. But the more 
they toiled in this direction, the less they succeed- 
ed. Burning with inward anguish, and with God's 
arrows sticking fast in him, shall the transgressor 
get relief from the attribute of Divine justice, and 
the qualities of law ? Shall the ten commandments 
of Sinai, in any of their forms or uses, send a cooling 
and calming virtue through the hot conscience \ 
With these kindling flashes in his guilt-stricken 
spirit, shall he run into the very identical fire that 
kindled them \ Shall he try to quench them in that 
" Tophet which is ordained of old ; which is made 



THE IMPOTENCE OF THE LAW. 109 

cleep and large ; the pile of which is fire and much^ 
wood, and the breath of the Lord like a stream of ~ 
brimstone doth kindle it ? " And yet such is, in 
reality, the attempt of every man who, upon being 
convicted in his conscience of guilt before God, en- 
deavors to attain peace by resolutions to alter his 
course of conduct, and strenuous endeavors to obey 
the commands of God, — in short by relying upon 
the law in any form, as a means of reconcilia- 
tion. Such is the suicidal effort of every man 
who substitutes the law for the gospel, and ex- 
pects to produce within himself the everlasting 
peace of God, by anything short of the atonement 
of God. 

Let us fix it, then, as a fact, that the feeling of 
culpability and unreconciliation can never be re- 
moved, so long as we do not look entirely away 
from our own character and works to the mere pure 
mercy of God in the blood of Christ. The trans- 
gressor can never atone for crime by anything 
that he can suffer, or anything that he can do. 
He can never establish a ground of justification, a 
reason why he should be forgiven, by his tears, or 
Lis prayers, or his acts. Neither the law, nor his 
attempts to obey the law, can re-instate him in his 
original relations to justice, and make him perfect 
again in respect to his conscience. The ten com- 
mandments can never silence his inward misgivings, 
and his moral fears ; for they are given for the very 
purpose of producing misgivings, and causing fears. 



170 



THE IMPOTENCE OF THE LAW. 



"The law worketh wrath." And if this truth and 
fact be clearly perceived, and boldly acknowledged 
to his own mind, it will cut him off from all these 
legal devices and attempts, and will shut him up to 
the Divine mercy and the Divine promise in Christ, 
where alone he is safe. 

We have thus seen that one of the two things 
necessary in order that apostate man may become 
perfect again, — viz., the pacification of his con- 
science, — cannot be obtained in and by the law, in 
any of its forms or uses. Let us now examine the 
other thing necessary in order to human perfection, 
and see what the law can do towards it, 

The other requisite, in order that fallen man may 
become perfect again, is a lioly heart and will. Can 
the moral law originate this ? That we may rightly 
answer the question, let us remember that a holy 
will is one that keeps the law of God spontaneously 
land that a perfect heart is one that sends forth holy 
affections and pure thoughts as naturally as the sin- 
ful heart sends forth unholy affections and impure 
thoughts. A holy will, like an evil will, is a won- 
derful and wonderfully fertile power. It does not 
consist in an ability to make a few or many sepa- 
rate resolutions of obedience to the divine law, but 
in being itself one great inclination and determina- 
tion continually and mightily going forth. A holy 
will, therefore, is one that from its very nature and 
spontaneity seeks God, and the glory of God. It 
does not even need to make a specific resolution to 



THE IMPOTENCE OF THE LAW. 



171 



obey ; any more than an affectionate child needs to 
resolve to obey its father. 

In like manner, a perfect and holy heart is a far 
more profound and capacious thing than men who 
have never seriously tried to obtain it deem it to 
be. It does not consist in the possession of a few or 
many holy thoughts mixed with some sinful ones, or 
in having a few or many holy desires together with 
some corrupt ones. A perfect heart is one undivi- 
ded agency, and does not produce, as the imperfectly 
sanctified heart of the Christian does, fruits of holi- 
ness and fruits of sin, holy thoughts and unholy 
thoughts. It is itself a root and centre of holiness, 
and nothing hut goodness springs up from it. The 
angels of God are totally holy. Their wills are un- 
ceasingly going forth towards Him with ease and 
delight; their hearts are unintermittently gushing 
out emotions of love, and feelings of adoration, and 
thoughts of reverence, and therefore the song that 
they sing is unceasing, and the smoke of their in- 
cense ascendeth forever and ever. 

Such is the holy will, and the perfect heart, which 
fallen man must obtain in order to be fit for heaven. 
To this complexion must he come at last. And 
now we ask : Can the law generate all this excel- 
lence within the human soul \ In order to answer 
this question, we must consider the nature of law, 
and the manner of its operation. The law, as anti- 
thetic to the gospel, and as the word is employed 
in the text, is in its nature mandatory and minatory. 



172 



THE IMPOTENCE OE THE LAW. 



It commands, and it threatens. This is the style of 
4 its operation. Can a perfect heart be originated 
in a sinner by these two methods? Does the stern 
behest, " Do this or die," secure his willing and joy- 
ful obedience ? On the contrary, the very fact that 
the law of God comes up before him coupled thus 
with a threatening evinces that his aversion and 
hostility are most intense. As the Apostle says, 
" The law is not made for a righteous man ; but for 
the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and 
for sinners." Were man, like the angels on high, 
sweetly obedient to the Divine will, there would 
be no arming of law with terror, no proclamation 
of ten commandments amidst thundering and light- 
nings. He would be a law unto himself, as all the 
heavenly host are, — the law working impulsively 
within him by its own exceeding lawfulness and 
beauty. The very fact that God, in the instance of 
man, is compelled to emphasize the penalty, along 
with the statute, — to say, " Keep my commandments 
upon pain of eternal death" — is proof conclusive 
that man is a rebel, and intensely so. 

And now what is the effect of this combination 
of command and threatening upon the agent ? Is 
he moulded by it? Does it congenially sway and 
incline him '? On the contrary, is he not excited 
to opposition by it % When the commandment 
" comes" loaded down with menace and damnation, 
does not sin " revive," as the Apostle affirms ? 1 Ar- 

1 Kom. vii. 9-12. 



THE IMPOTENCE OF THE LAW. 



173 



rest the transgressor in the very act of disobedience, 
and ring in his ears the "Thou shalt not" of the 
decalogue, and does he find that the law has the 
power to alter his inclination, to overcome his car- 
nal mind, and make him perfect in holiness ? On 
the contrary, the more you ply him with the stern 
command, and the more you emphasize the awful 
threatening, the more do you make him conscious 
of inward sin, and awaken his depravity. " The 
law," — as St. Paul affirms in a very remarkable text, 
— "is the strength of sin," 1 instead of being its de- 
struction. Nay, he had not even (re) known sin, 
but by the law : for he had not known lust, except 
the law had said, "Thou shalt not lust." The com- 
mandment stimulates instead of extirpating his 
hostility to the Divine government; and so long 
as the mere command, and the mere threat, — which, 
as the hymn tells us, is all the law can do, — are 
brought to bear, the depravity of the rebellious 
heart becomes more and more apparent, and more 
and more intensified. 

There is no more touching poem in all literature 
than that one in which the pensive and moral Schiller 
portrays the struggle of an ingenuous youth who 
would find the source of moral purification in the 
moral law ; who would seek the power that can 
transform him, in the mere imperatives of his con- 
science, and the mere stragglings and spasms of his 
own will. He represents him as endeavoring earn- 

1 1 Cor. xv 56. 



174 



THE IMPOTENCE OF THE LAW. 



estlv and lon^ to feel the force of obligation, and as 
toiling sedulously to school himself into virtue, by 
the bare power, by the dead lift, of duty. But the 
longer he tries, the more he loathes the restraints 
of law. Virtue, instead of growing lovely to him, 
becomes more and more severe, austere, and repel- 
lant. His life, as the Scripture phrases it, is " under 
law," and not under love. There is nothing spon- 
taneous, nothing willing, nothing genial in his re- 
ligion. He does not enjoy religion, but he endures 
I religion. Conscience does not, in the least, reno- 
vate his will, but merely checks it, or goads it. He 
becomes wearied and worn, and conscious that after 
all his self-schooling he is the same creature at heart, 
in his disposition and affections, that he was at the 
! commencement of the effort, he cries out, " O Vir- 
tue, take back thy crown, and let me sin." 1 The 
tired and disgusted soul would once more do a 
spontaneous thing. 

Was, then, that which is good made death unto 
this youth, by a Divine arrangement ? Is this the 
original and necessary relation which law sustains 
to the will and affections of an accountable creature \ 
Must the pure and holy law of God, from the very 
nature of things, be a weariness and a curse? God 
forbid. But sin that it might appear sin, working 
death in the sinner by that which is good, — that 
sin by the commandment might become, might be 
seen to be, exceeding sinful. The law is like a chem- 

1 Schillee : Der Kampf. 



THE IMPOTENCE OE THE LAW. 



175 



ical test. It eats into sin enough to show what sin 
is, and there stops. The lunar caustic bites into the 
dead flesh of the mortified limb ; but there is no 
healing virtue in the lunar caustic. The moral law 
makes no inward alterations in a sinner. In its 
own distinctive and proper action upon the heart 
and will of an apostate being, it is fitted only to 
elicit and exasperate his existing enmity. It can, 
therefore, no more be a source of sanctification, than 
it can be of justification. 

Of what use, then, is the law to a fallen man ? — 
some one will ask. Why is the commandment 
enunciated in the Scriptures, and why is the Chris- 
tian ministry perpetually preaching it to men dead 
in trespasses and sins? If the law can subdue no 
man's obstinate will, and can renovate no man's 
corrupt heart, — if it can make nothing perfect in 
human character, — then, " wherefore serveth the 
law \ " It was added because of transgressions," — 
says the Apostle in answer to this very question. 1 
It is preached and forced home in order to detect 
sin, but not to remove it ; to bring men to a con- 
sciousness of the evil of their hearts, but not to 
change their hearts. " For," continues the Apostle, 
"if there had been a law given which could have 
given life" — which could produce a transformation 
of character, — " then verily righteousness should 
have been by the law." It is not because the stern 
and threatening commandment can impart spiritual 

1 Galatians iii. 19. 



176 



THE IMPOTENCE OF THE LAW. 



vitality to the sinner, but because it can produce 
within him the keen vivid sense of spiritual death, 
that it is enunciated in the word of God, and pro- 
claimed from the Christian pulpit. The Divine law 
is waved like a flashing sword before the eyes of 
man, not because it can make him alive but, because 
it can slay him, that lie may then be made alive, 
not by the law but by the Holy Ghost, — by the 
Breath that cometh from the four winds and breathes 
on the slain. 

It is' easy to see, by a moment's reflection, that, 
from the nature of the case, the moral law cannot 
be a source of spiritual life and sanctification to a 
soul that has lost these. For law primarily sup- 
poses life, supposes an obedient inclination, and 
therefore does not produce it. It is not the function 
of any law to impart that moral force, that right 
disposition of the heart, by which its command is 
to be obeyed. The State, for example, enacts a law 
against murder, but this mere enactment does not, 
and cannot, produce a benevolent disposition in the 
citizens of the commonwealth, in case they are des- 
titute of it. How often do we hear the remark, 
that it is impossible to legislate either morality or 
religion into the people. When the Supreme Gov- 
ernor first placed man under the obligations and 
sovereignty of law, He created him in His own image 
and likeness : endowing him with that holy heart 
and right inclination which obeys the law of God 
with ease and delight. God made man up- 



THE IMPOTENCE OF THE LAW. 



177 



right, and in this state he could and did keep the 
commands of God perfectly. If, therefore, by any 
subsequent action upon their part, mankind have 
gone out of the primary relationship in which they 
stood to law, and have by their apostasy lost all 
holy sympathy with it, and all affectionate disposi- 
tion to obey it, it only remains for the law (not to 
change along with them, but) to continue immuta- 
bly the same pure and righteous thing, and to say, 
" Obey perfectly, and thou shalt live ; disobey in a 
single instance, and thou shalt die. 1 ' 

But the text teaches us, that although the law 
can make no sinful man perfect, either upon the 
side of justification, or of sanctification, " the bring- 
ing in of a better hope " can. This hope is the evan- 
gelic hope, — the yearning desire, and the humble 
trust, — to be forgiven through the atonement of 
the Lord Jesus Christ, and to be sanctified by the 
indwelling power of the Holy Ghost. A simple, but 
a most powerful thing ! Does the law, in its abrupt 
and terrible operation in my conscience, start out 
the feeling of guiltiness until I throb with anguish, 
and moral fear \ I hope, I trust, I ask, to be par- 
doned through the blood of the Eternal Son of God 
my Redeemer. I will answer all these accusations 
of law and conscience, by pleading what my Lord 
has done. 

Again, does the law search me, and probe me, 
and elicit me, and reveal me, until I would shrink 
out of the sight of God and of myself? I hope, I 



178 



THE IMPOTENCE OF THE LAW. 



trust, I ask, to "be made pure as the angels, spotless 
as the seraphim, by the transforming grace of the 
Holy Spirit. This confidence in Christ's Person and 
Work is the anchor, — an anchor that was never yet 
wrenched from the clefts of the Rock of Ages, and 
never will be through the aeons of aeons. By this 
hope, which goes away from self, and goes away 
from the law, to Christ's oblation and the Holy 
Spirit's energy, we do indeed draw very nigh to 
God, — " heart to heart, spirit to spirit, life to life." 

1. The unfolding of this text of Scripture shows, 
in the first place, the importance of having a dis- 
tinct and discriminating conception of law, and es- 
pecially of its proper function in reference to a sin- 
ful being. Very much is gained when we under- 
stand precisely what the moral law, as taught in 
the Scriptures, and written in our consciences, can 
do, and cannot do, towards our salvation. It can 
do nothing positively and efficiently. It cannot ex- 
tinguish a particle of our guilt, and it cannot purge 
away a particle of our corruption. Its operation is 
wholly negative and preparatory. It is merely a 
schoolmaster to conduct us to Christ. And the 
more definitely this truth and fact is fixed in our 
minds, the more intelligently shall we proceed in 
our use of law and conscience. 

2. In the second place, the unfolding of this text 
shows the importance of using the law faithfully 
and fearlessly within its own limits, and in accord- 
ance with its proper function. It is frequently asked 



THE IMPOTENCE OF THE LAW. 



179 



what the sinner shall do in the work of salvation. 
The answer is nigh thee, in thy mouth, and in thy 
heart. Be continually applying the law of God to 
your personal character and conduct. Keep an act- 
ive and a searching conscience within your sinful 
soul. Use the high, broad, and strict commandment 
of God as an instrumentality by which all ease, and 
all indifference, in sin shall be banished from the 
breast. Employ all this apparatus of torture, as 
perhaps it may seem to you in some sorrowful hours, 
and break up that moral drowze and lethargy 
which is ruining so many souls. And then cease 
this work, the instant you have experimentally 
found out that the law reaches a limit beyond 
which it cannot go, — that it forgives none of the 
sins which it detects, produces no change in the 
heart whose vileness it reveals, and makes no lost 
sinner perfect again. Having used the law legiti- 
mately, for purposes of illumination and conviction 
merely, leave it forever as a source of justification 
and sanctification, and seek these in Christ's atone- 
ment, and the Holy Spirit's gracious operation in 
the heart. Then sin shall not have dominion over 
you; for you shall not be under law, but under 
grace. After that faith is come, ye are no longer 
under a schoolmaster. For ye are then the children 
of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 1 

How simple are the terms of salvation ! But 
then they presuppose this work of the law, — this 

1 Galatians iii. 25, 26. 



180 



THE IMPOTENCE OE THE LAW. 



guilt-smitten conscience, and this wearying sense of 
bondage to sin. It is easy for a thirst?/ soul to 
drink down the draught of cold water. Nothing 
is simpler, nothing is more grateful to the sensations. 
But suppose that the soul is satiated, and is not a 
thirsty one. Then, nothing is more forced and re- 
pelling than this same draught. So is it with the 
provisions of the gospel. Do we feel ourselves to 
be guilty beings ; do we hunger, and do we thirst 
for the expiation of our sins ? Then the blood of 
Christ is drink indeed, and his flesh is meat with 
emphasis. But are we at ease and self-contented ? 
Then nothing is more distasteful than the terms of 
salvation. Christ is a root out of dry ground. And 
so long as we remain in this unfeeling and torpid 
state, salvation is an utter impossibility. The seed 
of the gospel cannot germinate and grow upon a 
rock. 



SELF-SCRUTINY IN GOD'S PRESENCE. 



ii>AJAH, i. 11. — "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord; 
though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though 
they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." 



These words were at first addressed to the 
Church of God. The prophet Isaiah begins his 
prophecy, by calling upon the heavens and the 
earth to witness the exceeding sinfulness of God's 
chosen people. " Hear, O heavens, and give ear O 
earth : for the Lord hath spoken ; I have nourished 
and brought up children, and they have rebelled 
against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the 
ass his master's crib : but Israel doth not know, my 
people doth not consider." Such ingratitude and 
sin as this, he naturally supposes would shock the 
very heavens and earth. 

Then follows a most vehement and terrible re- 
buke. The elect people of God are called " Sod- 
om," and " Gomorrah." " Hear the word of the 
Lord ye rulers of Sodom : give ear unto the law of 
our God ye people of Gomorrah. Why should ye 

9 



182 



SELF-SCEUTLNY IN GOD'S PTCESENCE. 



be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and 
more." This outflow of holy displeasure would 
prepare us to expect an everlasting reprobacy of the 
rebellious and unfaithful Church, but it is strangely 
followed by the most yearning and melting entreaty 
ever addressed by the Most High to tile creatures 
of His footstool: "Gome now, and let us reason to- 
gether, though your sins be as scarlet, they shall 
be as white as snow; though they be red like 
crimson, they shall be as wool." 

These words have, however, a wider application ; 
and while the unfaithful children of God ought to 
ponder them long and well, it is of equal import- 
ance that " the aliens from the commonwealth of 
Israel " should reflect upon them, and see their 
general application to all transgressors, so long as 
they are under the Gospel dispensation. Let us, 
then, consider two of the plain lessons taught, in 
these words of the prophet, to every unpardoned 
man. 

I. The text represents God as saying to the trans- 
gressor of his law, " Come and let us reason togeth- 
er. 11 The first lessou to be learned, consequently, 
is the duty of examining our moral character and 
conduct, along with God. 

When a responsible being has made a wrong use 
of his powers, nothing is more reasonable than that 
he should call himself to account for this abuse. 
Nothing, certainly, is more necessary. There can 
be no amendment for the future, until the past has 

I 



SELF-SCRUTINY IN GOD's PRESENCE. 183 



^been cared for. But that this examination may be 
both thorough and profitable, it must be made in 
company with the Searcher of hearts. 

For there are always two beings who are con- 
cerned with sin; the being who commits it, and the 
Being against whom it is committed. We sin, in- 
deed, against ourselves ; against our own conscience, 

land against our own best interest. Bat we sin in 
a yet higher, and more terrible sense, against An- 
other than ourselves, compared with whose majes- 
ty all of our faculties and interests, both in time 
and eternity, are altogether nothing and vanity. It 
is not enough, therefore, to refer our sin to the law 
written on the heart, and there stop. We must ul- 
timately pass beyond conscience itself, to God, and 
say, " Against Thee have I sinned." It is not the 
highest expression of the religious feeling, when we 
say, " How can I do this great wickedness, and sin 
against my conscience ? " He alone has reached the 
summit of vision who looks beyond all finite limits, 
however wide and distant, beyond all finite facul- 
ties however noble and elevated, and says, " How 
can I do this great wickedness, and sin against 
God? 

Whenever, therefore, an examination is made into 
the nature of moral evil as it exists in the indi- 
vidual heart, both parties concerned should share in 
the examination. The soul, as it looks within, 
should invite the scrutiny of God also, and as fast 
as it makes discoveries of its transgression and cor- 



184 



SELF-SCRUTINY IN GOd's PRESENCE. 



ruption should realize that the Holy One sees also. 
Such a joint examination as this produces a very 
keen and clear sense of the evil and guilt of sin. 
Conscience indeed makes cowards of us all, but 
when the eye of God is felt to be upon us, it smites 
us to the ground. " When Thou with rebukes, 1 ' — 
says the Psalmist, — " dost correct man for his ini- 
quity, Thou makest his beauty to consume away 
like a moth." One great reason why the feeling 
which the moralist has towards sin is so tame and 
languid, when compared with the holy abhorrence 
of the regenerate mind, lies in the fact that he has 
not contemplated human depravity in company with 
a sin-hating Jehovah. At the very utmost, he has 
been shut up merely with a moral sense which he 
has insulated from its dread ground and support,— 
the personal character and holy emotions of God. 
What wonder is it, then, that this finite faculty 
should lose much of its temper and severity, and 
though still condemning sin (for it must do this, 
if it does anything), fails to do it with that spirit- 
ual energy which characterizes the conscience when 
God is felt to be co-present and co-operating. So it 
is, in other provinces. We feel the guilt of an evil 
action more sharply, when we know that a fellow- 
man saw us commit it, than when we know that 
no one but ourselves is cognizant of the deed. The 
flush of shame often rises into our face, upon learn- 
ing accidentally that a fellow-being was looking at 
us, when we did the wrong action without any blush. 



SELF-SCRUTINY IN GOD'S PRESENCE. 



185 



How much more criminal, then, do we feel, when 
distinctly aware that the pure and holy God knows 
our transgression. How much clearer is our per- 
ception of the nature of moral evil, when we inves- 
tigate it along with Him whose eyes are a flame 
of fire. 

It is, consequently, a very solemn moment, when 
the human spirit and the Eternal Mind are reason- 
ing together about the inward sinfulness. When 
the soul is shut up along with the Holy One of 
Israel, there are great searchings of heart. Man is 
honest and anxious at such a time. His usual 
thoughtlessness and torpidity upon the subject of 
religion leaves him, and he becomes a serious and 
deeply-interested creature. Would that the multi- 
tudes who listen so languidly to the statements of 
the pulpit, upon these themes of sin and guilt, 
might be closeted with the Everlasting Judge, in 
silence and in solemn reflection. You who have 
for years been told of sin, but are, perhaps, still as 
indifferent regarding it as if there were no stain 
upon the conscience, — would that you might enter 
into an examination of yourself, alone with your 
Maker. Then would you become as serious, and as 
anxious, as you will be in that moment when you 
shall be informed that the last hour of your life 
upon earth has come. 

Another effect of this " reasoning together " with 
God, respecting our character and conduct, is to 
render our views discriminating. The action of 



186 SELF-SCKUTINT IN GOD'S PRESENCE. 



the nrinJ is not only intense, it is also intelligent. 
Strange as it may sound, it is yet a fact, that a re- 
view of our past lives conducted under the eye of 
God, and with a recognition of His presence and over- 
sight, serves to deliver the mind from confusion 
and panic, and to fill it with a calm and rational 
fear. This is of great value. For, when a man 
"begins to be excited upon the subject of religion, — 
it may be for the first time, in his unreflecting and 
heedless life, — he is oftentimes terribly excited. He 
is now brought suddenly into the midst of the most 
solemn things. That sin of his, the enormity of 
which he had never seen before, now reveals itself 
in a most frightful form, and he feels as the mur- 
derer does who wakes in the morning and begins 
to realize that he has killed a man. That holy 
Being, of whose holiness he had no proper concep- 
tion, now rises dim and awful before his half-open- 
ed inward eye, and he trembles like the pagan be- 
fore the unknown God whom he ignorantly wor- 
ships. That eternity, which he had heard spoken 
of with total indifference, now flashes penal flames 
in his face. Taken and held in this state of mind, 
the transgressor is confusedly as well as terribly 
awakened, and he needs first of all to have this ex- 
perience clarified, and know precisely for what he 
is trembling, and why. This panic and consterna- 
tion must depart, and a calm intelligent anxiety 
must take its place. But this cannot be, unless the 
mind turns towards God, and invites His searching 



SELF SCRUTINY IN GOD'S PRESENCE. 



187 



scrutiny, and His aid in the search after sin. So 
long as we shrink away from our Judge, and in 
upon ourselves, in these hours of conviction, — so 
long as we deal only with the workings of our own 
minds, and do not look up and " reason together " 
with God, — we take the most direct method of pro- 
ducing a blind, an obscure, and a selfish agony. 
We work ourselves, more and more, into a mere 
phrenzy of excitement. Some of the most wretched 
and fanatical experience in the history of the Church 
is traceable to a solitary self-brooding, in which, 
after the sense of sin had been awakened, the soul 
did not discuss the matter with God. 

For the character and attributes of God, when 
clearly seen, repress all fright, and produce that pe- 
culiar species of fear which is tranquil because it is 
deep. Though the soul, in such an hour, is conscious 
that God is a fearful object of sight for a transgress- 
or, yet it continues to gaze at Him with an eager 
straining eye. And in so doing, the superficial tre- 
mor and panic of its first awakening to the subject 
of religion passes off, and gives place to an in tenser 
moral feeling, the calmness of which is like the still- 
ness of fascination. Nothing has a finer effect upon 
a company of awakened minds, than to cause the 
being and attributes of God, in all their majesty 
and purity, to rise like an orb within their horizon ; 
and the individual can do nothing more proper, or 
more salutary, when once his sin begins to disquiet 
him, and the inward perturbation commences,. than 



188 SELF-SCRUTINY IJST GOD's PRESENCE. 



to collect and steady himself, in an act of reflection 
upon that very Being who abhors sin. Let no man, 
in the hour of conviction and moral fear, attempt 
to run away from the Divine holiness. On the con- 
trary, let him rush forward and throw himself down 
prostrate before that Dread Presence, and plead the 
merits of the Son of God, before it. He that finds 
his life shall lose it ; but he that loses his life shall 
find it. Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground 
and die, it remains a single unproductive corn of 
wheat ; but if it die, it germinates and brings forth 
much fruit. He who does not avoid a contact be- 
tween the sin of his soul and the holiness of his 
God, but on the contrary seeks to have these two 
things come together, that each may be understood 
in its own intrinsic nature and quality, takes the only 
safe course. He finds that, as he knows God more 
distinctly, he knows himself more distinctly ; and 
though as yet he can see nothing but displeasure 
in that holy countenance, he is possessed of a well- 
defined experience. He knows that he is wrong, 
and his Maker is right ; that he is wicked, and that 
God is holy. He perceives these two fundamental 
facts with a simplicity, and a certainty, that admits 
of no debate. The confusion and obscurity of his 
mind, and particularly the queryings whether these 
things are so, whether God is so very holy and man 
is so very sinful, begin to disappear, like a fog when 
disparted and scattered by sunrise. Objects are 
seen in their true proportions and meanings ; right 



SELF SCRUTINY IN GOD'S PRESENCE. 189 



and wrong, the carnal mind and the spiritual mind, 
Leaven and bell, — all the great contraries that per- 
tain to the subject of religion, — are distinctly un- 
derstood, and thus the first step is taken towards 
a better state of things in the soul. 

Let no man, then, fear to invite the scrutiny of 
God, in connection with his own scrutiny of himself. 
He who deals only with the sense of duty, and the 
operations of his own mind, will find that these 
themselves become more dim and indistinct, so long 
as the process of examination is not conducted in 
this joint manner; so long as the mind refuses to 
accept the Divine proposition, " Come now, and 
let us reason together? He, on the other hand, 
who endeavors to obtain a clear view of the 
Being against whom he has sinned, and to feel 
the full power of 'His holy eye as well as of His 
holy law, will find that his sensations and expe- 
riences are ffainins: a wonderful distinctness and 
intensity that will speedily bring the entire matter 
to an issue. 

n. For then, by the -blessing of God, he learns 
the second lesson taught in the text : viz., that there 
is forgiveness with God. Though, in this process 
of joint examination, your sins be found to be as 
scarlet, they shall be as white as snow ; though 
they be discovered to be red like crimson, they shall 
be as wool. 

If there were no forgiveness of sins, if mercy were 
not a manifested attribute of God, all self-extfmina- 

9* 



190 SELF-SCEUTIJS T Y EN" GOD'S PEESEjS t CE. 

tion, and especially all this conjoint divine scrutiny- 
would be a pure torment and a pure gratuity. It 
is wretchedness to know that we are guilty sinners, 
but it is the endless torment to know that there is 
no forgiveness, either here or hereafter. Convince 
a man that he will never be pardoned, and you shut 
him up with the spirits in prison. Compel him to 
examine himself under the eye of his God, while at 
the same time he has no hope of mercy, — and there 
would be nothing unjust in this, — and you dis- 
tress him with the keenest and most living tor- 
ment of which a rational spirit is capable. Well 
and natural was it, that the earliest creed of 
the Christian Church emphasized the doctrine of 
the Divine Pity ; and in all ages the Apostolic 
Symbol has called upon the guilt-stricken hu- 
man soul to cry, "I believe in the forgiveness 
of sins." 

We have the amplest assurance in the whole writ- 
ten Revelation of God, but nowliere else, that " there 
is forgiveness with Him, that He may be feared." 
44 Whoso confesseth and forsaketh his sins shall find 
mercy ; " and only with such an assurance as this from 
His own lips, could we summon courage to look into 
our character and conduct, and invite God to do the 
same. But the text is an exceedingly explicit as- 
sertion of this great truth. The very same Being 
who invites us to reason with Him, and canvass the 
subject of our criminality, in the very same breath, 
if we may so speak, assures us that He will forgive 



SELF-SCRUTINY IN GOD S PEESEXCE. 



191 



all that is found in this examination. And upon 
such terms, cannot the criminal well afford to ex- 
amine into his crime? He has a promise before- 
hand, that if he will but scrutinize and coufess his sin 
it shall be forgiven. God would have been simply 
and strictly just, had He said to him: " Go down 
into the depths of thy transgressing spirit, see how 
wicked thou hast been and still art, and know that 
in my righteous severity I will never pardon thee, 
world without end.' 1 But instead of this, He says : 
" Go down into the depths of thy heart, see the trans- 
gression and the corruption all along the line of the 
examination, confess it into my ear, and I will make 
the scarlet and crimson guilt white in the blood of 
my own Son. 1 ' These declarations of Holy Writ, 
which are a direct verbal statement from the lips of 
God, and which specify distinctly what He will do 
and will not do in the matter of sin, teach us that 
however deeply our souls shall be found to be 
stained, the Divine pity outruns and exceeds the 
crime. "For as the heavens are hio;h above the 
earth, so great is his mercy towards them that fear 
him. He that spared not his own Son, but deliv- 
ered him up for us all, how shall he not with 
him also freely give us all things ? " Here upon 
earth, there is no wickedness that surpasses the 
pardoning love of God in Christ. The words 
which Shakspeare puts into the mouth of the 
remorseful, but impenitent , Danish king are strictly 
true : 



192 



SELF-SCRUTINY LN GOD'S PRESENCE. 



" What if this cursed hand 
Were thicker than itself with brother's blood ? 
Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens 
To wash it white as snow ? Whereto serves mercy, 
But to confront the visage of offence ? " 1 

Anywhere this side of the other world, and at 
any moment this side of the grave, a sinner, if pen- 
itent (but penitence is not always at his control), 
may obtain forgiveness for all his sins, through 
Christ's blood of atonement. He must not hope for 
mercy in the future world, if he neglects it here. 
There are no acts of pardon passed in the day of 
judgment. The utterance of Christ in that day is 
not the utterance, "Thy sins are forgiven thee," 
but, " Come ye blessed," or " Depart ye cursed." So 
long, and only so long, as there is life there is hope, 
and however great may be the conscious criminality 
of a man while he is under the economy of Redemp- 
tion, and before he is summoned to render up his 
last account, let him not despair but hope in Divine 
grace. 

Now, he who has seriously "reasoned together" 
with God, respecting his own character, is far better 
prepared to find God in the forgiveness of sins, than 
he is who has merely brooded over his own unhap- 
piness, without any reference to the qualities and 
claims of his Judge. It has been a plain and per- 
sonal matter throughout, and having; now come to 
a clear and settled conviction that he is a guilty sin- 



Shakspeake : H.imlet, Act iii. Sc. 4. 



SELF-SCRUTINY IN GOD's PRESENCE. 



193 



ner, lie turns directly to the great and good Being 
who stands immediately before him, and prays to be 
forgiven, and is forgiven. One reason why the soul 
so often gropes days and months without finding a 
sin-pardoning God lies in the fact, that its thoughts 
and feelings respecting religious subjects, and par- 
ticularly respecting the state of the heart, have 
been too vague and indistinct. They have not had 
an immediate and close reference to that one single 
Being who is most directly concerned, and who 
alone can minister to a mind diseased. The soul is 
wretched, and there may be some sense of sin, but 
there is no one to go to, — no one to address with 
an appealing cry. u Oh that I knew where I might 
find him," is its language. " Oh that I mi^rht come 
even to his seat. Behold I go forward, but he is not 
there ; and backward, but I cannot perceive him." 
But this groping would cease were there a clear view 
of God. There might not be peace and a sense of re- 
conciliation immediately ; but there would be a dis- 
tinct conception of the one thing needful in order to 
salvation. This would banish all other subjects and 
objects. The eye would be fixed upon the single fact 
of sin, and the simple fact that none but God can for- 
give it. The whole inward experience would thus be 
narrowed down to a focus. Simplicity and inten- 
sity would be introduced into the mental state, in- 
stead of the previous confusion and vagueness. So- 
liloquy would end, and prayer, importunate, agoniz- 
ing prayer, would begin. That morbid and useless 



194 SELF-SCRUTINY IN GOT/s PEESENCE. 



self-brooding would cease, and those strong cryings 
and wrestlings till day-break would commence, and 
the kingdom of heaven would suffer this violence, 
and the violent would take it by force. " When I 
kept silence / my bones waxed old, through my roar- 
ing all the day long. For day and night thy hand 
was heavy upon me ; my moisture was turned into 
the drought of summer. I acknowledged my sin 
unto thee, and mine iniquity I no longer Md. I 
said, I will confess my transgressions unto the 
Lord ; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. 
For this," — because this is Thy method of salva- 
tion, — " shall every one that is godly pray unto 
thee, in a time when thou mayest be found." 
(Ps. xxxii. 3-6.) 

Self-examination, then, when joined with a dis- 
tinct recognition of the Divine character, and a con- 
scious sense of (rod's scrutiny, paradoxical as it may 
appear, is the surest means of producing a firm con- 
viction in a guilty mind that God is merciful, and 
is the swiftest way of finding Him to be so. Op- 
posed as the Divine nature is to sin, abhorrent as 
iniquity is to the pure mind of God, it is neverthe- 
less a fact, that that sinner who goes directly into 
this Dread Presence with all his sins upon his head, 
in order to know them, to be condemned and crushed 
by them, and to confess them, is the one who soon- 
est returns with peace and hope in his soul. For, 
he discovers that God is as cordial and sincere in 
His offer to forgive, as He is in His threat to pun- 



SELF-SCRUTINY IN GOD's PRESENCE. 195 



isli ; and having, to his sorrow, felt the reality and 
power of the Divine anger, he now to his joy feels 
the equal reality and power of the Divine love. 

And this is the one great lesson which every 
man must learn, or perish forever. The truthful- 
ness of God, in every respect, and in all relations, — 
His strict fidelity to His word, both under the law 
and under the gospel, — is a quality of which every 
one must have a vivid knowledge and certainty, in 
order to salvation. Men perish through unbelief. 
He that doubteth is damned. To illustrate. Men 
pass through this life doubting and denying God's 
abhorrence of sin, and His determination to punish 
it forever and ever. Under the narcotic and stupe- 
fying influence of this doubt and denial, they re- 
main in sin, and at death go over into the immedi- 
ate presence of God, only to discover that all His 
statements respecting His determination upon this 
subject are true, — awfully and hopelessly true. 
They then spend an eternity, in bewailing their in- 
fatuation in dreaming, while here upon earth, that 
the great and holy God did not mean what he 
said. 

Unbelief, again, tends to death in the other direc- 
tion, though it is far less liable to result in it. The 
convicted and guilt-smitten man sometimes doubts 
the truthfulness of the Divine promise in Christ. 
He spends days of darkness and nights of woe, be- 
cause he is unbelieving in regard to God's compas- 
sion, and readiness to forgive a penitent ; and when, 



196 SELF-SCRUTINY IN GOD's PEESENCE. 

at length, the light of the Divine countenance breaks 
upon him, he wonders that he was so foolish and 
slow of heart to believe all that God himself had 
said concerning the "multitude" of his tender 
mercies. Christian and Hopeful lay long and need- 
lessly in the dungeon of Doubting Castle, until the 
former remembered that the key to all the locks 
was in his bosom, and had been all the while. They 
needed only to take God at his word. The anxious 
and fearful soul must believe the Eternal JucVe 

o 

implicitly, when he says: "I will justify thee 
through the blood of Christ." God is truthful 
under the gospel, and under the law ; in His prom- 
ise of mercy, and in His threatening of eternal woe. 
And " if we believe not, yet He abideth faithful ; 
He cannot deny Himself." He hath promised, and 
He hath threatened ; and, though heaven and earth 
pass away, one jot or one tittle of that promise 
shall not fail in the case of those who confidingly 
trust it, nor shall one iota or scintilla of the threat- 
ening fail in the instance of those who have reck- 
lessly and rashly disbelieved it. 

In respect, then, to both sides of the revelation 
of the Divine character, — in respect . to the threat- 
ening and the promise, — men need to have a clear 
perception, and an unwavering belief. He that 
doubteth in either direction is damned. He who 
does not believe that God is truthful, when He de- 
clares that He will a punish iniquity, transgression 
and sin," and that those upon the left hand shall 



SELF-SCRTJTE5TY IN GOD'S PEESENCE. 197 

" go away into everlasting punishment," will per- 
sist in sin until he passes the line of probation and 
be lost. And he who does not believe that God is 
truthful, when He declares that He will forgive 
scarlet and crimson sins through the blood of Christ, 
will be overcome by despair and be also lost. But 
he who believes both Divine statements with equal 
certainty, and perceives both facts with distinct 
vision, will be saved. 

From these two lessons of the text, we deduce 
the following practical directions : 

1. First: In all states of religious anxiety, we 
should betake ourselves instantly and directly to 
God. There is no other refuse for the human soul 
but God in Christ, and if this fails us, we must re- 
nounce all hope here and hereafter. 

" If this fail, 
The pillared firmament is rottenness, 
And earth's base built on stubble." 1 

We are, therefore, from the nature of the case, 
shut up to this course. Suppose the religious 
anxiety arise from a sense of sin, and the fear of 
retribution. God is the only Being that can forgive 
sins. To whom, then, can such an one go but unto 
Him ? Suppose the religious anxiety arises from a 
sense of the perishing nature of earthly objects, and 
the soul feels as if all the foundation and fabric of 
its hope and comfort were rocking into irretrievable 

1 Milton : Comus, 597-599. 



198 SELF-SCRUTINY UN" GOD'S PRESENCE. 

ruin. God is the only Being who can help in this 
crisis. In either or in any case, — be it the anxiety 
of the unforgiven, or of the child of God, — what- 
ever be the species of mental sorrow, the human 
soul is by its very circumstances driven to its Maker, 
or else driven to destruction. 

What more reasonable course, therefore, than to 
conform to the necessities of our condition. The 
principal part of wisdom is to take things as they 
are, and act accordingly. Are we, then, sinners, 
and in fear for the final result of our life ? Though 
it may seem to us like running into fire, we must 
nevertheless betake ourselves first and immediately 
to that Being who hates and punishes sin. Though 
we see nothing but condemnation and displeasure 
in those holy eyes, we must nevertheless approach 
them just and simply as we are. We must say with 
king David in a similar case, when he had incurred 
the displeasure of God : " I am in a great strait ; 
[yet] let me fall into the hand of the Lord, for very 
great are his mercies" (1 Chron. xx. 13). We must 
suffer the intolerable brightness to blind and blast 
us in our guiltiness, and let there be an actual con- 
tact between the sin of our soul and the holiness of 
our God. If we thus proceed, in accordance with 
the facts of our case and our position, we shall meet 
with a great and joyful surprise. Flinging our- 
selves helpless, and despairing of all other help, — 
rashly, as it will seem to us, flinging ourselves off 
from the position where we now are, and upon 



SELF-SCRUTINY IN GOD'S PRESENCE. 



199 



which we must inevitably perish, we shall find 
ourselves, to our surprise and unspeakable joy, 
caught in everlasting, paternal arms. He who 
loses his life, — he who dares to lose his life, — shall 
find it. 

2. Secondly: In all our religious anxiety, we 
should make a full and plain statement of everything 
to God. God loves to hear the details of our sin, 
and our woe. The soul that pours itself out as 
water will find that it is not like water spilt upon 
the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. 
Even when the story is one of shame and remorse, 
we find it to be mental relief, patiently and without 
any reservation or palliation, to expose the whole 
not only to our own eye but to that of our Judge. 
For, to this very thing have we been invited. This 
is precisely the " reasoning together " which God 
proposes to us. God has not offered clemency to a 
sinful world, with the expectation or desire that 
there be on the part of those to whom it is offered, 
such a stinted and meagre confession, such a fdozinor 

O / O O 

over and diminution of sin, as to make that clem- 
ency appear a very small matter. He well knows 
the depth and the immensity of the sin which He 
proposes to pardon, and has made provision accord- 
ingly. In the phrase of Luther, it is no painted 
sinner who is to be forgiven, and it is no painted 
Saviour who is offered. The transgression is deep 
and real, and the atonement is deep and real. 
The crime cannot be exaggerated, neither can the 



200 SELF-SCRUTINY IN GOD's PRESENCE. 



expiation. He, therefore, who makes the plain- 
est and most child-like statement of himself to 
God, acts most in accordance with the mind, and 
will, and gospel of God. If man only be hearty, 
full, and unreserved in confession, he will find 
God to be hearty, full, and unreserved in absolu- 
tion. 

Man is not straitened upon the side of the Divine 
mercy. The obstacle in the way of his salvation is 
in himself ; and the particular, fatal obstacle consists 
in the fact that he does not feel that he needs mercy. 
God in Christ stands ready to pardon, but man the 
sinner stands up before Him like the besotted crim- 
inal in our courts of law, with no feeling upon the 
subject. The Judge assures him that He has a 
boundless grace and clemency to bestow, but the 
stolid hardened man is not even aware that he has 
committed a dreadful crime, and needs grace and 
clemency. There is food in infinite abundance, but 
no hunger upon the part of man. The water of life 
is flowing by in torrents, but men have no thirst. 
In this state of things, nothing can be done, but to 
pass a sentence of condemnation. God cannot for- 
give a being who does not even know that he needs 
to be forgiven. Knowledge then, self-knowledge, 
is the great requisite ; and the want of it is the 
cause of perdition. This " reasoning together" with 
God, respecting our past and present character and 
conduct, is the first step to be taken by any one 
who would make preparation for eternity. As soon 



SELF-SCRUTINY IN GOD's PRESENCE. 201 



as we come to a iwht understanding of our lost and 
guilty condition, we shall cry : " Be merciful to me 
a sinner ; create within me a clean heart, O God." 
Without such an understanding, — such an intelli- 
gent perception of our sin and guilt, — we never 
shall, and we never can. 



SIN IS SPIRITUAL SLAVERY 



John viii. 34. — " Jesus answered them, Verily, verily I say unto you, who- 
soever committeth sin is the servant of sin." 



The word (SovXog) which is translated " serv- 
ant," in the text, literally signifies a slave ; and the 
thought which our Lord actually conveyed to those 
who heard Him is, " Whosoever committeth sin is 
the slave of sin." The apostle Peter, in that second 
Epistle of his which is so full of terse and terrible 
description of the effects of unbridled sensuality 
upon the human will, expresses the same truth. 
Speaking of the influence of those corrupting and 
licentious men who have u eyes full of adultery, and 
that cannot cease from sin," he remarks that while 
they promise their dupes "liberty, they themselves 
are the servants [slaves] of corruption : for of 
whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought 
in bondage." 

Such passages as these, of which there are a great 
number in the Bible, direct attention to the fact 
that sin contains an element of servitude, — that in 
the very act of transgressing the law of God there 



SIX IS SPIRITUAL SLAYEEY. 



203 



is a reflex action of the human will upon itself, 
whereby it becomes less able than before to keep 
that law. Sin is the suicidal action of the human 
will. It destroys the power to do right, which is 
man's true freedom. The effect of vicious habit in 
diminishing a man's ability to resist temptation is 
proverbial. But what is habit but a constant rep- 
etition of wrong decisions, every single one of 
which reacts upon the faculty that put them forth, 
and renders it less strong and less energetic, to do 
the contrary. Has the old debauchee, just totter- 
ing into hell, as much power of active resistance 
against the sin which has now ruined him, as the 
youth has who is just beginning to run that aw- 
ful career ? Can any being do a wrong act, and be 
as sound in his will and as spiritually strong, after 
it, as he was before it \ Did that abuse of free 
agency by Adam, whereby the sin of the race was 
originated, leave the agent as it found him, — unin- 
jured and undebilitated in his voluntary power? 

The truth and fact is, that sin in and by it 5 own 
nature and operations, tends to destroy all virtuous 
force, all holy energy, in any moral being. The ex- 
cess of will to sin is the same as the defect of will 
to holiness. The degree of intensity with which 
any man loves and inclines to evil is the mer-.sure of 
the amount of power to good which he has thereby 
lost. And if the intensity be total, then the loss is 
entire. Total depravity carries with it total impo- 
tence and helplessness. The more carefully we ob- 



204 



SLN" IS SPIEITUAL SLAVERY. 



ser\ e the workings of our own wills, the surer will 
be our conviction that they can ruin themselves. 
We shall indeed find that they cannot be forced, or 
ruined from the outside. But, if we watch the in- 
fluence upon the will itself, of its own wrong decis- 
ions, its own yielding to temptations, we shall dis- 
cover that the voluntary faculty may be ruined from 
within ; may be made impotent to good by its own 
action ; may surrender itself with such an intensity 
and entireness to appetite, passion, and self-love, 
that it becomes unable to reverse itself, and over- 
come its own wrong disposition and direction. 
And yet there is no compulsion, from first to last, in 
the process. The man follows himself. He pursues 
his own inclination. He has his own way and does 
as he pleases. He loves what he inclines to love, 
and hates what he inclines to hate. Neither God, 
nor the world, nor Satan himself, force him to do 
wrong. Sin is the most spontaneous of self-motion. 
But self-motion has consequences as much as any 
other motion. Because transgression is a ^^-deter- 
mined act, it does not follow that it has no reaction 
and results, but leaves the will precisely as it found 
it. It is strictly true that man was not necessitated 
to apostatize ; but it is equally true that if by his 
own self-decision he should apostatize, he could not 
then and afterwards be as he was before. He would 
lose a Icnowledge of Grod and divine things which 
he could never regain of himself. And he would 
lose a spiritual power which he could never again 



SIN" IS SPIRITUAL SLAVERY. , 205 



recover of himself. The bondage of which Christ 
speaks, when He says, " Whosoever committeth sin 
is the slave of sin," is an effect within the soul itself 
of an unforced act of self-will, and therefore is as 
truly guilt as any other result or product of self- 
will, — as spiritual blindness, or spiritual hardness, 
or any other of the qualities of sin. Whatever 
springs from will, we are responsible for. The 
drunkard's bondage and powerlessness issues from 
his own inclination and self-indulgence, and there- 
fore the bondage and impotence is no excuse for 
his vice. Man's inability to love God supremely 
results from his intense self-will and self-love ; and 
therefore his impotence is a part and element of 
his sin, and not an excuse for it. 

" If weakness may excuse, 
What murderer, what traitor, parricide, 
Incestuous, sacrilegious, may not plead it? 
All wickedness is weakness." 1 



1 Milton : Samson Agonistes, 
882-834.— One key to the solu- 
tion of the problem, how there 
can be bondage in the very seat of 
freedom, — how man can be re- 
sponsible for sin, yet helpless in 
it, — is to be found in this fact of 
a reflex action of the will upon 
itself, or, a reaction of self-aotion. 
Philosophical speculation upon 
the nature of the human will has 
not, hitherto, taken this fact suf- 
ficiently into account. The fol- 
lowing extracts corroborate the 
view presented above. "My 
will the enemy held, and thence 
had made a chain for me, and 
bound me. For, of a perverse 
will comes lust ; and a lust 



yielded to becomes custom; 
and custom not resisted becomes 
necessity. By which links, as it 
were, joined together as in a 
chain, a hard bondage held me en- 
thralled." Augustine : Confes- 
sions, VIII. v. 10. " Every de- 
gree of inclination contrary to 
duty, which is and must be sinful, 
implies and involves an equal de- 
gree of difficulty and inability to 
obey. For, indeed, such inclina- 
tion of the heart to disobey, and 
the difficulty or inability to obey, 
are precisely one and the same. 
This kind of difficulty or inability, 
therefore, always is great accord- 
ing to the strength and fixedness 
of the inclination to disobey ; and 



10 



206 



SUNT IS SPIRITUAL SLAVERY. 



The doctrine, then, which is taught m the text, 
is the truth that sin is spiritual slavery ; and it is 
to the proof and illustration of this position that 
we invite attention. 

The term " spiritual " is too often taken to mean 
unreal, fanciful, figurative. For man is earthly 
in his views as well as in his feelings, and therefore 
regards visible and material things as the emphatic 
realities. Hence he employs material objects as the 
ultimate standard, by which he measures the real- 
ity of all other things. The natural man has more 
consciousness of his body, than he has of his soul ; 
more sense of this world, than of the other. Hence 
we find that the carnal man expresses his concep- 
tion of spiritual things, by transferring to them, in 
a weak and secondary signification, words which he 
applies in a strong and vivid way only to material 
objects. He speaks of the "joy " of the spirit, but 



it becomes total and absolute [ina- 
bility], when the heart is totally 
corrupt and wholly opposed to 
obedience. . . No man can act 
contrary to his present inclination 
or choice. But who ever imag- 
ined that this rendered his incli- 
nation and choice innocent and 
blameless, however wrong and 
unreasonable it might be." Sam- 
uel Hopkins : Works, I. 233-235. 
"Moral inability" is the being 
"unable to be willing." Ed- 
waeds : Freedom of the Will, 
Part I, sect. iv. "Propensities," 
— says a writer very different 
from those above quoted, — "that 
are easily surmounted lead us un- 
resistingly on ; we yield to temp- 



tations so trivial that we despise 
their danger. And so we fall 
into perilous situations from 
which we might easily have pre- 
served ourselves, but from which 
we now find it impossible to ex- 
tricate ourselves without efforts 
so superhuman as to terrify us, 
and we finally fall into the abyss, 
saying to the Almighty, ' Why 
hast Thou made me so weak ? ' 
But notwithstanding our vain 
pretext, He addresses our con- 
science, saying, ' I have made 
thee too weak to r ise from the pit, 
because I made thee strong 
enough not to fall therein.' 1 " 
Rousseau : Confessions, Book II. 



SIN IS SPIRITUAL SLAVERY. 



207 



it is not such a reality for him as is the "joy" of 
the body. He speaks of the " pain " of the spirit, 
but it has not such a poignancy for him as that an- 
guish which thrills through his muscles and nerves, 
fie knows that the " death " of the body is a ter- 
rible event, but transfers the word " death " to 
the spirit with a vague and feeble meaning, not 
realizing that the second death is more awful than 
the first, and is accompanied with a spiritual dis- 
tress compared with which, the sharpest agony of 
material dissolution would be a relief. He under- 
stands what is meant by the " life " of the body, 
but when he hears the " eternal life " of the spirit 
spoken of, or when he reads of it in the Bible, it is 
with the feeling that it cannot be so real and life- 
like as that vital principle whose currents impart 
vigor and warmth to his bodily frame. And yet, 
the life of the spirit is more intensely real than the 
life of the body is ; for it has power to overrule 
and absorb it. Spiritual life, when in full play, 
is bliss ineffable. It translates man into the third 
heavens, where the fleshly life is lost sigdit of en- 
tirely, and the being, like St. Paul, does not know 
whether he is in the body or out of the body. 

The natural mind is deceived. Spirit has in it 
more of reality than matter has ; because it is an 
immortal and indestructible essence, while matter 
is neither. Spiritual things are more real than vis- 
ible things ; because they are eternal, and eternity 
is more real than time. Statements respecting 



208 SIN IS SPIKITUAL SLAVERY. 



spiritual objects, therefore, are more solemnly true 
than any that relate to material things. Invisible 
and spiritual realities, therefore, are the standard 
by which all others should be tried ; and human 
language when applied to them, instead of express- 
ing too much, expresses too little. The imagery 
and phraseology by which the Scriptures describe 
the glory of God, the excellence of holiness, and the 
bliss of heaven, on the one side, and the sinfulness 
of sin with the woe of hell, on the other, come short 
of the sober and actual matter of fact. 

We should, therefore, beware of the error to 
which in our unspirituality we are specially liable ; 
and when we hear Christ assert that " whosoever 
committeth sin is the slave of sin," we should be- 
lieve and know, that these words are not extrava- 
gant, and contain no subtrahend, — that they indi- 
cate a self-enslavement of the human will which is 
so real, so total, and so absolute, as to necessitate 
the renewing grace of God in order to deliverance 
from it. 

This bondage to sin may be discovered by every 
man. It must be discovered, before one can cry, 
" Save me or I perish." It must be discovered, before 
one can feelingly assent to Christ's words, " With- 
out me ye can do nothing." It must be discovered, 
before one can understand the Christian paradox, 
" When I am weak, then am I strong." To aid the 
mind, in coming to the conscious experience of the 
truth taught in the text, we remark: 



SIN IS SPIRITUAL SLAVERY. 



209 



I. Sin is spiritual slavery, if viewed in refer- 
ence to man's sense of obligation to be perfectly 
holy. 

The obligation to be holy, just, and good, as God 
is, rests upon every rational being. Every man 
knows, or may know, that he ought to be perfect 
as his Father in heaven is perfect, and that he is a 
debtor to this obligation until he lawfully met it. 
Hence even the holiest of men are conscious of sin, 
because they are not completely up to the mark of 
this high calling of God. For, the sense of this 
obligation is an exceeding broad one, — like the law 
itself which it includes and enforces. The feeling 
of duty will not let us off, with the performance of 
only a part of our duty. Its utterance is : "Verily 
I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot 
or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till 
all be fulfilled." Law spreads itself over the whole 
surface and course of our lives, and insists impera- 
tively that every part and particle of them be pure 
and holy. 

Again, this sense of obligation to be perfect as 
God is perfect, is exceedingly deep. It is the most 
'profound sense of which man is possessed, for it 
outlives all others. The feeling of duty to God's 
law remains in a man's mind either to bless him or 
to curse him, when all other feelings depart. In 
the hour of death, when all the varied passions and 
experiences which have engrossed the man his 
whole lifetime are dying out of the soul, and are 



210 



SIN" IS SPIRITUAL SLAYEEY. 



disappearing, one after another, like signal -lights 
in the deepening darkness, this one particular feel- 
ing of what he owes to the Divine and the Eter- 
nal law remains behind, and grows more vivid 
and painful, as all others grow dimmer and dim- 
mer. And therefore it is, that in this solemn 
hour man forgets whether he has been happy or 
unhappy, successful or unsuccessful, in the world, 
and remembers only that he has been a sinner in 
it. And therefore it is, that a man's thoughts, 
when he is upon his death-bed, do not settle upon 
his worldly matters, but upon his sin. It is because 
the human conscience is the very core and centre 
of the human being, and its sense of obligation to 
be holy is deeper than all other senses and sensa- 
tions, that we hear the dying man say what the 
living and prosperous man is not inclined to say : 
" I have been wicked ; I have been a sinner in the 
earth." 

Now it might seem, at first sight, that this broad, 
deep, and abiding sense of obligation would be 
sufficient to overcome man's love of sin, and bring 
him up to the discharge of duty, — would be power- 
ful enough to subdue his self-will. Can it be that 
this strong and steady draft of conscience, — strong 
and steady as gravitation, — will ultimately prove 
ineffectual ? Is not truth mighty, and must it not 
finally prevail, to the pulling down of the stronghold 
which Satan has in the human heart ? So some 
men argue. So some men claim, in opposition to 



SIN" IS SPIEITUAL SLAVERY. 



211 



the doctrine of Divine influences and of regenera- 
tion by the Holy Ghost. 

We are willing to appeal to actual experience, 
in order to settle the point. And we affirm in the 
outset, that exactly in proportion as a man hears the 
voice of conscience sounding its law within his 
breast, does he become aware, not of the strength 
but, of the bondage of his will, and that in propor- 
tion as this sense of obligation to be perfectly holy 
rises in his soul, all hope or expectation of ever 
becoming so by his own power sets in thick night. 

In our careless unawakened state, which is our 
ordinary state, we sin on from day to day, just as 
we live on from day to day, without being distinctly 
aware of it. A healthy man does not go about, 
holding his fingers upon his wrist, and counting 
every pulse ; and neither does a sinful man, as he 
walks these streets and transacts all this business, 
think of and sum up the multitude of his trans- 
gressions. And yet, that pulse all the while beats 
none the less ; and yet, that will all the while trans- 
gresses none the less. So long as conscience is 
asleep, sin is pleasant. The sinful activity goes on 
without notice, we are happy in sin, and we do 
not feel that it is slavery of the will. Though the 
chains are actually about us, yet they do not gall 
us. In this condition, which is that of every 
•unawakened sinner, we are not conscious of the 
" bondage of corruption." In the phrase of St. 
Paul, " we are alive without the law." We have 



212 



SIN IS SPIEITUAL SLAVERY. 



no feeling sense of duty, and of course have no 
feeling sense of sin. And it is in this state of 
things, that arguments are framed to prove the 
mightiness of mere conscience, and the power of 
bare truth and moral obligation, over the perverse 
human heart and will. 

But the Spirit of God awakens the conscience ; 
that sense of obligation to he perfectly holy which 
has hitherto slept now starts up, and begins to form 
an estimate of what has been done in reference to 
it. The man hears the authoritative and startling 
law : " Thou shalt be perfect, as God is " And now, 
at this very instant and point, begins the conscious- 
ness of enslavement, — of being, in the expressive 
phrase of Scripture, " sold under sin." Now the 
commandment " comes," shows us first what we 
ought to be and then what we actually are, and 
we "die." 1 All moral strength dies out of us. 
The muscle has been cut by the sword of truth, and 
the limb drops helpless by the side. For, we find 
that the obligation is immense. It extends to all 
our outward acts ; and having covered the whole of 
this great surface, it then strikes inward and reaches 
to every thought of the mind, and every emotion 
of the heart, and every motive of the will. We 
discover that we are under obligation at every con- 
ceivable point in our being and in our history, but 
that we have not met obligation at a single point. 
"When we see that the law of God is broad and 

1 Romans vii. 9-11. 



SIN IS SPIRITUAL SLAVERY. 



213 



deep, and that sin is equally broad and deep within 
us ; when we learn that we have never thought one 
single holy thought, nor felt one single holy feeling, 
nor done one single holy deed, because self-love is 
the root and principle of all our work, and we have 
never purposed or desired to please God by any 
one of our actions ; when we find that everything 
has been required, and that absolutely nothing 
has been done, that we are bound to be perfectly 
holy this very instant, and as matter of fact are 
totally sinful, we know in a most affecting man- 
ner that " whosoever committeth sin is the slave 
of sin". 

But suppose that after this disheartening and 
weakening discovery of the depth and extent of 
our sinfulness, we proceed to take the second step, 
and attempt to extirpate it. Suppose that after 
coming to a consciousness of all this obligation 
resting upon us, we endeavor to comply with it. 
This renders us still more painfully sensible of the 
truth of our Saviour's declaration. Even the re 
generated man, who in this endeavor has the aid of 
God, is mournfully conscious that sin is the enslave- 
ment of the human will. Though he has been 
freed substantially, he feels that the fragments of 
the chains are upon him still. Though the love of 
God is the predominant principle within him, yet 
the lusts and propensities of the old nature con- 
tinually start up like devils, and tug at the spirit, 
to drag it down to its old bondage. But that man 
10* 



§14 



SIN IS SPIRITUAL SLAYEEY. 



wlio attempts to overcome sin, without first crying, 
iC Create within me a clean heart, O God," feels 
still more deeply that sin is spiritual slavery. 
When lie comes to know sin in reference to the ob- 
ligation to be perfectly holy, it is with vividness 
and hopelessness. He sees distinctly that he ought 
to be a perfectly good being instantaneously. This 
point is clear. But instead of looking up to the 
hills whence cometh his help, he begins, in a cold 
legal and loveless temper, to draw upon his own 
resources. The first step is to regulate his external 
conduct by the Divine law. He tries to put a 
bridle upon his tongue, and to walk carefully before 
his fellow-men. He fails to do even this small 
outside thing and is filled with discouragement 
and despondency. 

But the sense of duty reaches beyond the exter- 
nal conduct, and the law of Grod pierces like the 
two-edged sword of an executioner, and discerns 
the thoughts and motives of the heart. Sin begins 
to be seen in its relation to the inner man, and he 
attempts again to reform and change the feelings 
and aifections of his soul. He strives to wring the 
gall of bitterness out of his own. heart, with his 
own hands. But he fails utterly. As he resolves, 
and breaks his resolutions; as he finds evil thoughts 
and feelings continually coming up from the deep 
places of his heart ; he discovers his spiritual impo- 
tence, — his lack of control over what is deepest, 
most intimate, and most fundamental in his own 



SLN" IS SPIRITUAL SLAVERY. 



215 



character, — and cries out : " I am a slave, 1 am a 
slave to myself." 

If then, you would know from immediate con- 
sciousness that " whosoever committeth sin is the 
slave of sin," simply view sin in the light of that 
obligation to be perfectly pure and holy which 
necessarily, and forever, rests upon a responsible 
being. If you would know that spiritual slavery 
is no extravagant and unmeaning phrase, but 
denotes a most real and helpless bondage, endeavor 
to get entirely rid of sin, and to be peifect as the 
spirits of just men made perfect. 

II. Sin is spiritual slavery, if viewed in reference 
to the aspirations of the human soul. 

Theology makes a distinction between common 
and special grace, — between those ordinary influen- 
ces of the Divine Spirit which rouse the conscience, 
and awaken some transient aspirations after re- 
ligion, and those extraordinary influences which 
actually renew the heart and will. In speaking, 
then, of the aspirations of the human soul, reference 
is had to all those serious impressions, and those 
painful anxieties concerning salvation, which re- 
quire to be followed up by a yet mightier power 
from God, to prevent their being entirely sup- 
pressed again, as they are in a multitude of in- 
stances, by the strong love of sin and the world. 
For though man has fallen into a state of death 
in trespasses and sins, so that if cut off from every 
species of Divine influence, and left entirely to him- 



216. 



SIN IS SPIRITUAL SLAVEEY. 



self, he would never reach out after anything but 
the sin which he loves, yet through the common 
influences of the Spirit of Grace, and the ordinary 
workings of a rational nature not yet reprobated, 
he is at times the subject of internal stirrings and 
aspirations that indicate the greatness and glory 
of the heights whence he fell. Under the power 
of an awakened conscience, and feeling the empti- 
ness of the world, and the aching void within him, 
man wishes for something better than he has, or 
than he is. The minds of the more thoughtful of 
the ancient pagans were the subjects of these im- 
pulses, and aspirations ; and they confess their 
utter inability to realize them. They are expressed 
upon every page of Plato, and it is not surprising 
that some of the Christian Fathers should have 
deemed Platonism, as well as Judaism, to be a prep- 
aration for Christianity, by its bringing man to 
a sense of his need of redemption. And it would 
stimulate Christians in their efforts to g-ive revealed 
religion to the heathen, did they ponder the fad 
which the journals of the missionary sometimes dis 
close, that the Divine Spirit is brooding with His 
common and preparatory influence over the chaos 
of Paganism, and that here and there the heathen 
mind faintly aspires to be freed from the bond- 
age of corruption, — that dim stirrings, impulses, 
and wishes for deliverance, are awake in the dark 
heart of Paganism, but that owing to the strength 
and inveteracy of sin in that heart they will 



SIN IS SPIRITUAL SLAVERY. 



217 



prove ineffectual to salvation, unless the gospel is 
preached, and the Holy Spirit is specially poured 
out in answer to the prayers of Christians. 

Now, all these phenomena in the human soul go 
to show the rigid bondage of sin, and to prove that 
sin has an element of servitude in it. For when 
these impulses, wishes, and aspirations are awaken- 
ed, and the man discovers that he is unable to real- 
ize them in actual character and conJuct, he is 
wretchedly and thoroughly conscious that " whoso- 
ever commit teth sin is the slave of sin." The im- 
mortal, heaven-descended spirit, feeling the kindling 
touch of truth and of the Holy Ghost, thrills 
under it, and essays to soar. But sin hangs heavy 
upon it, and it cannot lift itself from the earth. 
Never is man so sensible of his enslavement and 
his helplessness, as when he has a wish but has no 



wUL 1 



Look, for illustration, at the aspirations of the 
drunkard to be delivered from the vice that easily 
besets him. In his sober moments, they come 
thick and fast, and during his sobriety, and while 
under the lashings of conscience, he wishes, nay, 
even longs, to be freed from drunkenness. It may 
be, that under the impulse of these aspirations he 
resolves never to drink again. It may be, that 
amid the buoyancy that naturally accompanies the 



1 Some of the Schoolmen dis- former, velleitas, and the latter, 
tinguished carefully between the voluntas. 
two things, and denominated the 



218 



SIX" IS SPIRITUAL SLAYEBY. 



springing of hope and longing in the human soul, 
he for a time seems to himself to be actually rising 
up from his " wallowing in the mire," and supposes 
that he shall soon regain his primitive condition of 
temperance. But the sin is strong; for the appetite 
that feeds it is in his blood. Temptation with its 
witching solicitation comes before the will, — the 
weak, self-enslaved will. He aspires to resist, but 
will not; the spirit would soar, but the flesh will 
creep; the spirit has the wisK, but the flesh has 
the will; the man longs to be sober, but actually 
is and remains a drunkard. And never, — be it 
noticed, — never is he more thoroughly conscious 
of being a slave to himself, than when he thus 
ineffectually aspires and wishes to be delivered 
from himself. 

What has been said of drunkenness, and the 
aspiration to be freed from it, applies with full force 
to all the sin and all the aspirations of the human 
soul. There is no independent and self-realizing 
power in a mere aspiration. No man overcomes 
even his vices, except as he is assisted by the com- 
mon grace of God. The self-reliant man invariably 
relapses into his old habits. He who thinks lie 
stands is sure to fall. But when, under the influ- 
ence of God's common grace, a- man aspires to be 
freed from the deepest of all sin, because it is the 
source of all particular acts of transgression, — when 
he attempts to overcome and extirpate the original 
and inveterate depravity of his heart, — he feels his 



SIX IS SPIRITUAL SLAVERY. 



219 



bondage more thoroughly than ever. If it is 
wretchedness for the drunkard to aspire after free- 
dom from only a single vice, and fail of reaching 
it, is it not the depth of woe, when a man comes to 
know " the plague of his heart/' and his utter 
inability to cleanse and cure it ? In this case, the 
bondage of self-will is found to be absolute. 

At first sight, it might seem as if these wishes 
and aspirations of the human spirit, faint though 
they be, are proof that man is not totally depraved, 
and that his will is not helplessly enslaved. So 
some men argue. But they forget, that these aspi- 
rations and wishes are never realized. There is no 
evidence of power, except from its results. And 
where are the results? Who has ever realized 
these wishes and aspirations, in his heart and con- 
duct \ The truth is, that every vncitfained aspira- 
tion that ever swelled the human soul is proof pos- 
itive, and loud, that the human soul is in bondage. 
These ineffectual stirrings and impulses, which 
disappear like the morning cloud and the early 
dew, are most affecting evidences that " whosoever 
committeth sin is the slave of sin/' They prove 
that apostate man has sunk, in one respect, to a 
lower level than that of the irrational creation. 
For, high ideas and truths cannot raise him. Lofty 
impulses result in no alteration, or elevation. Even 
Divine influences leave him just where they find 
him, unless they are exerted in their highest grade 
of irresistible o<race. A brute surrenders himself 



220 



SES" IS SPIRITUAL SLAVERY, 



to his appetites and propensities, and lives the low 
life of nature, without being capable of aspirations 
for anything purer and nobler. But man does this 
very thing, — nay, immerses himself in flesh, and 
sense, and self, with an entireness and intensity of 
which the brute is incapable, — in the face of 
impulses and stirrings of mind that point him to 
the pure throne of God, and urge him to soar up 
to it ! The brute is a creature of nature, because 
he knows no better, and can desire nothing better ; 
but man is "as the beasts that perish," in spite of 
a better knowledge and a loftier aspiration ! 

If then, you would know that " whosoever com- 
mitteth sin is the slave of sin," contemplate sin in 
reference to the aspirations of an apostate spirit 
originally made in the image of God, and which, 
because it is not eternally reprobated, is not entirely 
cut off from the common influences of the Spirit 
of God. Never will you feel the bondage of your 
will more profoundly, than when under these influ- 
ences, and in your moments of seriousness and 
anxiety respecting your soul's salvation, you aspire 
and endeavor to overcome inward sin, and find that 
unless God grant you His special- and renovating 
grace, your heart will be sinful through all eternity, 
in spite of the best impulses, of } 7 our best hours. 
These upward impulses and aspirations cannot 
accompany the soul into the state of final hopeless- 
ness and despair, — though Milton represents Satan 
as " sometimes looking back with a sigh, and a 



SIN IS SPIRITUAL SLAVERY. 



221 



mournful memory, upon what he had once been, 1 — • 
yet if they should go with us there, they would 
make the ardor of the fire more tierce, and the 
gnaw of the worm more fell. For they would help 
to reveal the strength of our sin, and the intensity 
of our rebellion. 

III. Sin is spiritual slavery, if viewed in refer- 
ence to the fears of the human soul. 

The sinful spirit of man fears the death of the 
body, and the Scriptures assert that by reason of 
this particular fear we are all our lifetime in bond- 
age. Though we know that the bodily dissolu- 
tion can have no effect upon the imperishable es- 
sence of an immortal being, yet we shrink back 
from it, as if the sentence, "Dust thou art, and unto 
dust thou shalt return, 71 had been spoken of the 
spirit, — as if the worm were to " feed sweetly " 
upon the soul, and it were to be buried up in the 
dark house of the Grave. Even the boldest of i s is 
disturbed at the thought of bodily death, anc? we 
are always startled when the summons suddenly 
comes : " Set thy house in order, for thou x/iust 
die." 

Again, the spirit of man fears that " fearful some- 
thing after death," that eternal judgment which 
must be passed upon all. We tremble at the pros- 
pect of giving an account of our own actions, "^e 
are afraid to reap the harvest, the seed of which ve 
have sown with our own hands. The though! of 

1 Miltox : Paradise Lost, IV. 23-25 ; 35-61. 



222 



SIN IS SPIRITUAL SLAVERY. 



going to a just judgment, and of receiving from the 
Judge of all the earth, who cannot possibly do in- 
justice to any of His creatures, only that which is 
our desert, shocks us to the centre of our beino; ! 
Man universally is afraid to be judged with a right- 
eous judgment! Man universally is terrified by 
the equitable bar of God ! 

Again, the apostate spirit of man has an awful 
dread of eternity. Though this invisible realm is 
the proper home of the human soul, and it was 
made to dwell there forever, after the threescore 
and ten years of its residence in the body are over, 
yet it shrinks back from an entrance into this un- 
tried world, and clings with the desperate force of 
a drowning man to this " bank and shoal of time." 
There are moments in the life of a guilty man when 
the very idea of eternal existence exerts a preter- 
natural power, and fills him with a dread that para- 
lyzes him. Never is the human being stirred to 
so great depths, and roused to such intensity of ac- 
tion, as when it feels what the Scripture calls " the 
power of an endless life." All men are urged by 
some ruling passion which is strong. The love of 
wealth, or of pleasure, or of fame, drives the mind 
onward with great force, and excites it to mighty 
exertions to compass its end. But never is a man 
pervaded by such an irresistible and overwhelming 
influence as that which descends upon him in some 
season of religious gloom, — some*hour of sickness, 
or danger, or death, — when the great eternity, with 



SFBf IS SPIE1TUAL SLAVERY. 



223 



all its awful realities, and all its unknown terror, 
opens upon his quailing gaze. There are times m 
man's life, when he is the subject of movements 
within that impel him to deeds that seem almost 
superhuman ; but that internal ferment and con- 
vulsion which is produced when all eternity pours 
itself through his being turns his soul up from the 
centre. Man will labor convulsively, night and day, 
for money ; he will dry up the hloorn and freshness 
of health, for earthly power and fame ; he will act- 
ually wear his body out tbr sensual pleasure. But 
what is the intensity and paroxysm of this activity 
of mind and body, if compared with those inward 
struggles and throes when the overtaken and start- 
led sinner sees the eternal world looming into view, 
and with strong crying and tears prays tbr only a 
little respite, and only a little preparation ! "Mil- 
lions for an inch of time." — said the dying English 
Queen. O Eternity! Eternity! how shall I grap- 
ple with the misery that I must meet with in eter- 
nity" — says the man in the iron cage of Despair. 
This finite world has indeed great power to stir man, 
but the other world has an infinitely greater power. 
The clouds which float in the lower regions of the 
sky. and the winds that sweep them along, produce 
great ruin and destruction upon the earth, but it is 
only when the " windows of heaven are opened *' 
that ; * the fountains of the great deep are broken 
up." and ** all in whose nostrils is the breath of life 
die." and *" every living substance is destroyed 



224 



SIN IS SPIRITUAL SLAVERY. 



which is upon the face of the ground." When fear 
arises in the soul of man, in view of an eternal ex- 
istence for which he is utterly unprepared, it is 
overwhelming. It partakes of the immensity of 
eternity, and holds the man with an omnipotent 
grasp. 

If, now, we view sin in relation to these great 
fears of death, judgment, and eternity, we see that it 
is spiritual slavery, or the bondage of the will. We 
discover that our terror is no more able to deliver 
us from the " bondage of corruption," than our as- 
piration is. We found that in spite of the serious 
stirrings and impulses which sometimes rise within 
us, we still continue immersed in sense and sin ; 
and we shall also find that in spite of the most sol- 
emn and awful fears of which a finite being is capa- 
ble, we remain bondmen to ourselves, and our sin 
The dread that goes down into hell can no more 
ransom us, than can the aspiration that goes up into 
heaven. Our fear of eternal woe can no more change 
the heart, than our wish for eternal happiness can. 
We have, at some periods, faintly wished that lusts 
and passions had no power over us ; and perhaps 
we have been the subject of still higher aspirings. 
But we are the same beings, still. We are the 
same self-willed and self-enslaved sinners, yet. 
We have all our lifetime feared death, judgment, 
and eternity, and under the influence of this fear 
we have sometimes resolved and promised to be- 
come Christians. But we are the very same beings, 



BUS E3 SPIRITUAL SLAVERY. 



225 



still ; we are the same self-willed and self-enslaved 
sinners yet. 

Oh, never is the human spirit more deeply con- 
scious of its bondage to its darling iniquity, than 
when these paralyzing fears shut down upon it, like 
night, with " a horror of great darkness," AY hen 
under their influence, the man feels most thoroughly 
and wretchedly that his sin is his ruin, and yet his 
sinful determination continues on, because " whoso- 
ever committeth sin is the slave of sin.' 1 Has it 
never happened that, in " the visions of the night 
when deep sleep falleth upon men," a spirit passed 
before your face, like that which stood still before 
the Temanite ; and there was silence, and a voice 
saying, " Man ! Man ! thou must die, thou must be 
judged, thou must inhabit eternity ? " And when 
the spirit had departed, and while the tones of its 
solemn and startling cry were still rolling through, 
your soul, did not a temptation to sin solicit you, 
and did you not drink in its iniquity like water ? 
Have you not found out, by mournful experience, 
that the most anxious forebodings of the human 
spirit, the most alarming fears of the human soul, 
and the most solemn warnings that come forth from 
eternity, have no prevailing power over your sinful 
nature, but that immediately after experiencing 
them, and while your whole being is still quivering 
under their agonizing touch, you fall, you rush, into 
sin ? Have you not discovered that even that most 
dreadful of all fears, — the fear of the holy wrath of 



226 



SIN IS SPIRITUAL SLAVERY. 



almighty God, — is not strong enough to save you 
I from yourself ? Do you know that your love of sin 
\ has the power to stifle and overcome the mightiest 
of your fears, when you are strongly tempted to self- 
indulgence ? Have you no evidence, in your own 
experience, of the truth of the poet's words ; 

" The Sensual and the Dark rebel in vain, 
Slaves by their own compulsion." 

If, then, you would know that " whosoever com- 
mit tctli sin is the slave of sin, 1 ' contemplate sin in 
relation to the fears which of necessity rest upon a 
spirit capable, as yours is, of knowing that it must 
leave the body, that it must receive a final sentence 
at the bar of judgment, and that eternity is its last 
and fixed dwelling-place. If you would know 
with sadness and with profit, that sin is the enslave- 
ment of the will that orisrmates it, consider that all 
the distressing fears that have ever been in your 
soul, from the first, have not been able to set you 
free in the least from innate depravity: but, that 
in spite of them all your will has been steadily 
surrendering itself, more and more, to the evil prin- 
ciple of self-love and enmity to God. Call to mind 
the great fight of anguish and terror which you 
have sometimes waged with sin, and see how sin has 
always been victorious. Remember that you have 
often dreaded death, — but you are unjust still. 
Remember that you have often trembled at the 
thought of eternal judgment, — but you are imre- 



SIN IS SPIRITUAL SLAVERY. ' 227 



generate still. Remember that you have often 
started back, when the holy and retributive eter- 
nity dawned like the day of doom upon you, — but 
you are impenitent still. If you view your own 
personal sin in reference to your own personal fears, 
are you not a slave to it? Will or can your fears, 
mighty as they sometimes are, deliver you from 
the bondage of corruption, and lift you above that 
which you love with all your heart, and strength, 
and might \ 

It is perfectly plain, then, that " whosoever cora- 
mitteth sin is the slave of sin," whether we have 
regard to the feeling of obligation to be perfectly 
holy which is in the human conscience ; or to the 
ineffectual aspirations which sometimes arise in the 
human spirit ; or to the dreadful fears which often 
fall upon it. Sin must have brought the human 
will into a real and absolute bondage, if the deep 
and solemn sense of indebtedness to moral law; if 
the " thoughts that wander through eternity ; " if 
the aspirations that soar to the heaven of heavens, 
and the fears that descend to the very bottom of 
hell, — if all these combined forces and influences 
cannot free it from its power. 

It was remarked in the beginning: of this dis- 
course, that the bondage of sin is the result of the 
reflex action of the human will upon itself. It is 
not a slavery imposed from without, but from within. 
The bondage of sin is only a particular aspect of 
sin itself. The element of servitude, like the ele- 



228 



SIN" IS SPIRITUAL SLAVERY. 



raent of blindness, or hardness, or rebelliousness, is 
part and particle of that moral evil which deserves 
the wrath and curse of God. It, therefore, no more 
excuses or palliates, than does any other self-origi- 
nated quality in sin. Spiritual bondage, like spir- 
itual enmity to God, or spiritual ignorance of Him, 
or spiritual apathy towards Him, is guilt and crime. 

And in closing, we desire to repeat and empha- 
size this truth. Whoever will enter upon that pro- 
cess of self- wrestling and self-conflict which has 
been described, will come to a profound sense of 
the truth which our Lord taught in the words of 
the text. All such will find and feel that they are 
in slavery, and that their slavery is their condem- 
nation. For the anxious, weary, and heavy-laden 
sinner, the problem is not mysterious, because it 
finds its solution in the depths of his own self -con- 
sciousness. He needs no one to clear it up for him, 
and he has neither doubts nor cavils respecting it. 

But, an objection always assails that mind which 
has not the key of an inward moral struggle to un- 
lock the problem for it. When Christ asserts that 
'* whosoever committeth sin is the slave of sin," the 
easy and indifferent mind is swift to draw the in- 
ference that this bondage is its misfortune, and that 
the poor slave does not deserve to be punished, but 
to be set free. He says as St. Paul did in another 
connection : " Nay verily, but let them come them- 
selves, and fetch* us out." But this slavery is a self' 
enslavement. The feet of this man have not been 



SIN IS SPIRITUAL SLAYEEY. 



229 



thrust into the stocks by another. This logician 
must refer everything to its own proper author, and 
its own proper cause. Let this spiritual bond- 
age, therefore, be charged upon the self that origi- 
nated it. Let it be referred to that self-will in 
which it is wrapped up, and of which it is a constit- 
uent element. It is a universally received maxim, 
that the agent is responsible for the consequences of 
a voluntary act, as well as for the act itself. If 
therefore, the human will has inflicted a suicidal 
blow upon itself, and one of the consequences of its 
own determination is a total enslavement of itself 
to its own determination, then this enslaving result 
of the act, as well the act itself, must all go in to 
constitute and swell the sum-total of human guilt. 
The miserable drunkard, therefore, cannot be ab- 
solved from the drunkard's condemnation, upon the 
plea that by a long series of voluntary acts he has, 
in the end, so enslaved himself that no power but 
God's grace can save him. The marble-hearted fiend 
in hell, the absolutely lost spirit in despair, cannot 
relieve his torturing sense of guilt, by the reflection 
that he has at length so hardened his own heart 
that he cannot repent. The unforced will of a moral 
being must be held responsible for both its direct, 
and its reflex action ; for both its sin, and its bond- 
age in sin. 

The denial of guilt, then, is not the way out. He 

who takes this road "kicks against the goads." 

And he will find their stabs thickening, the farther 
11 



230 



SIN" IS SPIRITUAL SLAVERY. 



he travels, and the nearer he draws to the face and 
eyes of God. But there is away out. It is the way 
of self-knowledge and confession. This is the point 
upon which all the antecedents of salvation hinge. 
He who has come to know, with a clear discrimina- 
tion, that he is in a guilty bondage to his own incli- 
nation and lust, has taken the very first step towards 
freedom. For, the Redeemer, the Almighty Deliv- 
erer, is near the captive, so soon as the captive feels 
his bondage and confesses it. The mighty God 
w r alking upon the waves of this sinful, troubled life, 
stretches out His arm, the very instant any sinking 
soul cries, " Lord save me." And unless that appeal 
and confession of helplessness is made, He, the Mer- 
ciful and the Compassionate, will let the soul go 
down before His own eyes to the unfathomed 
abyss. If the sinking Peter had not uttered that 
cry, the mighty hand of Christ would not have been 
stretched forth. All the difficulties disappear, so 
soon as a man understands the truth of the Divine 
affirmation : " O Israel thou hast destroyed thyself," 
— it is a real destruction, and it is thy own work, — 
" but in ME is thy help." 



THE ORIGINAL AND THE ACTUAL RELATION OF MAJS 
TO LAW. 



Romans vii. 10.— "The commandment which was ordained to life, I 
found to be unto death." 



The reader of St. Paul's Epistles is struck with 
the seemingly disparaging manner in which he 
speaks of the moral law. In one place, he tells his 
reader that " the law entered that the offence might 
abound ; " in another, that " the law worketh 
wrath ; " in another, that " sin shall not have do- 
minion " over the believer because he is " not under 
the law ; " in another, that Christians " are become 
dead to the law;" in another, that "they are delivered 
from the law T ; " and in another, that " the strength 
of sin is the law." This phraseology sounds 
strangely, respecting that great commandment 
upon which the wLole moral government of God is 
founded. We are in the habit of supposing that 
nothiug that springs from the Divine law, or is in 
any way connected with it, can be evil or the occa- 
sion of evil. If the law of holiness is the strength 
of sin ; if it wwketk wrath ; if good men are to 



232 THE ORIGINAL AND THE ACTUAL 



be delivered from it ; what then shall be said of 
the law of sin % Why is it, that St. Paul in a cer- 
tain class of his representations appears to be inim- 
ical to the ten commandments, and to warn Chris- 
tians against them ? u Is the law sin \ " is a ques- 
tion that very naturally arises, while reading some 
of his statements; and it is a question which he 
himself asks, because he is aware that it will be 
likely to start in the mind of some of his readers. 
And it is a question to which he replies : u God for- 
bid. Nay I had not known sin, but by the law." 

The difficulty is only seeming, and not real. 
These apparently disparaging representations of 
the moral law are perfectly reconcilable with that 
profound reverence for its authority whif.h St. Paul 
felt and exhibited, and with that solemn and cogent 
preaching of the law for which he was so distin- 
guished. The text explains and resolves the diffi- 
culty. u The commandment which was ordained 
to life, I found to be unto death." The moral law, 
in its own nature, and by the Divine ordination, is 
suited to produce holiness and happiness in the soul 
of any and every man. It was ordained to life. 
So far as the purpose of God, and the original na- 
ture and character of man, are concerned, the ten 
commandments are perfectly adapted to fill the 
soul with peace and purity. In the unfallen crea- 
ture, they work no wrath, neither are they the 
strength of sin. If everything in man had re- 
mained as it was created, there would have been 



EELATION OF MAN TO LAW. 



233 



no need of urging him to "become dead to the 
law," to be " delivered from the law," and not be 
" under the law." Had man kept his original right- 
eousness, it could never be said of him that " the 
strength of sin is the law." On the contrary, 
there was such a mutual agreement between the 
unfallen nature of man and the holy law of God, 
that the latter was the very joy and strength of 
the former. The commandment was ordained to 
life, and it was the life and peace of holy Adam. 

The original relation between man's nature and 
the moral law was precisely like that between 
material nature and the material laws. There has 
been no apostasy in the system of matter, and all 
things remain there as they were in the beginning 
of creation. The law of gravitation, this very 
instant, rules as peacefully and supremely in every 
atom of matter, as it did on the morning of crea- 
tion. Should material nature be " delivered " from 
the law of gravitation, chaos would come again. 
No portion of this fair and beautiful natural world 
needs to become' 4 dead" to the laws of nature. 
Such phraseology as this is inapplicable to the re- 
lation that exists between the world of matter, and 
the system of material laws, because, in this mate- 
rial sphere, there has been no revolution, no rebel- 
lion, no great catastrophe analogous to the fall of 
Adam. The law here was ordained to life, and the 
ordinance still stands. And it shall stand until, 
by the will of the Creator, these elements shall 



234 THE ORIGINAL AND THE ACTUAL 



melt with fervent heat, and these heavens shall pass 
away with a great noise ; until a new system of 
nature, and a new legislation for it, are introduced, 

But the case is different with man. He is not 
standing where he was, when created. He is out 
of his original relations to the law and government 
of God, and therefore that which was ordained to 
him for life, he now finds to be unto death. The 
food which in its own nature is suited to minister 
to the health and strength of the well man, becomes 
poison and death itself to the sick man. 

With this brief notice of the fact, that the law 
of God was ordained to life, and that therefore this 
disparaging phraseology of St. Paul does not refer 
to the intrinsic nature of law, which he expressly 
informs us "is holy just and good," nor to the origi- 
nal relation which man sustained to it before he 
became a sinner, let us now proceed to consider some 
particulars in which the commandment is found to 
be unto death, to every sinful man. 

The law of God shows itself in the human soul, 
in the form of a sense of duty. Every man, as he 
walks these streets, and en^a^es in the business or 
pleasures of life, hears occasionally the words : 
" Thou shalt ; thou shalt not." Every man, as he 
passes along in this earthly pilgrimage, finds him- 
self saying to himself : " I ought, I ought not." 
This is the voice of law sounding in the conscience ; 
and every man may know, whenever he hears these 
words, that he is listening to the same authority 



RELATION OF MAN TO LAW. 



235 



1 that cut the ten commandments into the stones of 
Sinai, and sounded that awful trumpet, and will 
one day come in power and great glory to judge 
the quick and dead. Law, we say, expresses itself 
for man, while here upon earth, through the sense 
of duty. " A sense of duty pursues us ever," said 
"Webster, in that impressive allusion to the work- 
ings of conscience, in the trial of the Salem mur- 
derers. This is the accusing and condemning sen- 
1 sation, in and by which the written statute of Grod 
1 becomes a living energy, and a startling voice in 
/ the soul. Cut into the rock of Sinai, it is a dead 
letter ; written and printed in our Bibles, it is still 
a dead letter ; but wrought in this manner into the 
fabric of our own constitution, waylaying us in our 
hours of weakness, and irresolution, and secrecy, 
and speaking to our inward being in tones that are 
as startling as any that could be addressed to the 
physical ear, — undergoing this transmutation, and 
/ becoming a continual consciousness of duty and obli- 
gation, the law of Grod is more than a letter. It is 
a possessing spirit, and according as we obey or 
disobey, it is a guardian angel, or a tormenting 
fiend. We have disobeyed, and therefore the 
sense of duty is a tormenting sensation ; the com- 
mandment which was ordained to life, is found to 
1 be unto death. 

I. In the first place, to go into the analysis, the 
sense of duty is a sorrow and a pain to sinful man, 
because it places him under a continual restraint. 



236 THE ORIGINAL AND THE ACTUAL 



No creature can be happy, so long as he feels 
himself under limitations. To be checked, reined 
in, and thwarted in any way, renders a man uneasy 
and discontented. The universal and instinctive 
desire for freedom, — freedom from restraint, — is a 
proof of this. Every creature wishes to follow out 
his inclination, and in proportion as he is hindered 
in so doing, and is compelled to work counter to it, 
he is restless and dissatisfied. 

Now the sense of duty exerts just this influence, 
■upon sinful man. It opposes his wishes ; it thwarts 
his inclination ; it imposes a restraint upon his 
spontaneous desires and appetites. It continually 
hedges up his way, and seeks to stop him in the 
path of his choice and his pleasure. If his inclina- 
tion were only in harmony with his duty; if his 
desires and affections were one with the law of God ; 
there would be no restraint from the law. In this 
case, the sense of duty would be a joy and not a 
sorrow, because, in doing his duty, he would be 
doing what he liked. There are only two ways, 
whereby contentment can be introduced into the 
human soul. If the Divine law could be altered so 
that it should agree with man's sinful inclination, 
he could be happy in sin. The commandment 
having become like his own heart, there would, of 
course, be no conflict between the two, and he 
might sin on forever and lap himself in Elysium. 
And undoubtedly there are thousands of luxurious 
and guilty men, who, if they could, like the Eastern 



RELATION OF MAN TO LAW. 



237 



Semiramis, would make lust and law alike in their 
decree; 1 would transmute the law of holiness 
into a law of sin ; would put evil for good, and 
good for evil, bitter for sweet and sweet for bit- 
ter; in order to be eternally happy in the sin 
that they love. They would bring duty and in- 
clination into harmony, by a method that would 
annihilate duty, would annihilate the eternal dis- 
tinction between right and wrong, would annihilate 
God himself. But this method, of course, is impos- 
sible. There can be no transmutation of law, 
though there can be of a creature's character and in- 
clination. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but 
the commandment of Grod can never pass away. 
The only other mode, therefore, by which duty and 
inclination can be brought into agreement, and the 
continual sense of restraint which renders man so 
wretched be removed, is to change the inclination. 
The instant the desires and affections of our hearts 
are transformed, so that they accord with the 
Divine law, the conflict between our will and our 
conscience is at an end. When I come to love the 
law of holiness and delight in it, to obev it is sim- 
ply to follow out my inclination. And this, we 
have seen, is to be happy. 

But such is not the state of things, in the unre- 

1 " She in vice 

Of luxury was so shameless, that she made 
Liking to be lawful by promulged decree. 
To clear the blame she had herself incnrr'd." 

Dante : Inferno, v. 56. 

11* 



238 



THE OEIGIXAL AND THE ACTUAL 



newed soul. Duty and inclination are in conflict. 
Man's desires appetites and tendencies are in one di- 
rection, and his conscience is in the other. The sense 
of duty holds a whip over him. He yields to his 
sinful inclination, finds a momentary pleasure in so 
doing, and then feels the stings of the scorpion-lash. 
We see this operation in a very plain and striking 
manner, if we select an instance where the appetite 
is very strong, and the voice of conscience is very 
loud. Take, for example, that particular sin which 
most easily besets an individual. Every man has 
such a sin, and knows what it is. Let him call to 
mind the innumerable instances in which that par- 
ticular temptation has assailed him, and he will be 
startled to discover how many thousands of times 
the sense of duty has put a restraint upon him. 
Though not in every single instance, yet in hun- 
dreds and hundreds of cases, the law of God has 
uttered the, " Thou shalt not, 1 ' and endeavored to 
prevent the consummation of that sin. And what a 
wearisome experience is this. A continual forth- 
putting of an unlawful desire, and an almost inces 
sant check upon it, from a law which is hated but 
which is feared. For such is the attitude of the 
natural heart toward the commandment. "The 
carnal mind is enmity against the law of God." 
The two are contrary to one another; so that when 
the heart goes out in its inclination, it is immedi- 
ately hindered and opposed by the law. Sometimes 
the collision between them is terrible, and the soul 



RELATION OF MAN TO LAW. 239 



becomes an arena of tumultuous passions. The 
heart and will are intensely determined to do wrong, 
while the conscience is unyielding and uncompro- 
mising, and utters its denunciations, and thunders 
its warnings. And what a dreadful destiny awaits 
that soul, in whom this conflict and collision be- 
tween the dictates of conscience, and the desires of 
the heart, is to be eternal ! for whom, through all 
eternity, the holy law of God, which was ordained 
to life peace and joy, shall be found to be unto death 
and woe immeasurable ! 

II. In the second place, the sense of duty is a 
pain and sorrow to a sinful man, because it de- 
mands a perpetual effort from him. 

No creature likes to tug, and to lift. Service 
must be easy, in order to be happy. If you lay 
upon the shoulders of a laborer a burden that 
strains his muscles almost to the point of rupture, 
you put him in physical pain. His physical struc- 
ture was not intended to be subjected to such a 
stretch. His Creator designed that the burden 
should be proportioned to the power, in such a man- 
ner that work should be play. In the garden of 
Eden, physical labor was physical pleasure, because 
the powers were in healthy action, and the work 
assigned to them was not a burden. Before the 
fall, man was simply to dress and keep a garden ; 
but after the fall, he was to dig up thorns and this- 
tles, and eat his bread in the sweat of his face. .This 
is a cwrse^ — the curse of being compelled to toil, 



240 THE ORIGINAL AND THE ACTUAL 



and lift, and put the muscle to such a tension that 
it aches. This is not the original and happy con 
dition of the body, in which man was created. 
Look at the toiling millions of the human family, 
who like the poor ant " for one small grain, labor, 
and tug, and strive ; " see them bending double, 
under the heavy weary load which they must carry 
until relieved by death ; and tell me if this is the 
physical elysium, the earthly paradise, in which 
unfallen man was originally placed, and for which 
he was originally designed. No, the curse of labor, 
of perpetual effort, has fallen upon the body, as 
the curse of death has fallen upon the soul; and 
the uneasiness and unrest of the groaning and strug- 
gling body is a convincing proof of it. The whole 
physical nature of man groaneth and travaileth in 
pain together until now, waiting for the adoption, 
that is the redemption of the body from this penal 
necessity of perpetual strain and effort. 

The same fact meets us when we pass from the 
physical to the moral nature of man, and becomes 
much more sad and impressive. By creation, it was 
a pleasure and a pastime for man to keep the law 
of God, to do spiritual work. As created, he was 
not compelled to summon his energies, and strain 
his will, and make a convulsive resolution to obey 
the commands of his Maker. Obedience was joy. 
Holy Adam knew nothing of effort in the path of 
duty. It was a smooth and broad pathway, fringed 
with flowers, and leading into the meadows 01 as- 



RELATION OF MAN TO LAW. 2-11 

phodel. It did not become the "straight and nar- 
row " way, until sin had made obedience a toil, the 
sense of duty a restraint, and human life a race and a 
fight. By apostasy, the obligation to keep the Divine 
law perfectly, became repulsive. It was no longer 
easy for man to do right ; and it has never been easy 
or spontaneous to him since. Hence, the attempt to 
follow the dictates of conscience always costs an un- 
regenerate man an effort. He is compelled to make a 
resolution; and a resolution is the si 2*11 and signal of 
a difficult and unwelcome service. Take your own 
experience for an illustration. Did you ever, ex- 
cept as you were sweetly inclined and drawn by the 
renewing grace of God, attempt to discharge a duty, 
without discovering that you were averse to it, and 
that you must gather up your energies for the work, 
as the leaper strains upon the tendon of Achilles to 
make the mortal leap. And if you had not become 
weary, and given over the effort; if you had en- 
tered upon that sad but salutary passage in the re- 
ligious experience which is delineated in the seventh 
chapter of Romans ; if you had continued to strug- 
gle and strive to do your duty, until you grew faint 
and weak, and powerless, and cried out for a higher 
and mightier power to succor you ;• you would have 
known, as you do not yet, what a deadly opposition 
there is between the carnal mind and the law of 
God, and what a spasmodic effort it cost! an un- 
renewed man even to attempt to discharc z the in- 
numerable obligations that rest upon him. Mankind 



242 



THE OKIGINAL A!ND THE ACTUAL 



would know more of this species of toil and labor, 
and of the cleaving curse involved in it, if they 
were under the same physical necessity in re- 
gard to it, that they lie under in respect to manual 
labor. A man must dig up the thorns and thistles, 
he must earn his bread in the sweat of bis face, or 
lie must die. Physical wants, hunger and thirst, 
set men to work physically, and keep them at it ; 
and thus they well understand what it is to have a 
weary body, aching muscles, and a tired physical 
nature. But they are not under the same species 
of necessity, in respect to the* wants and the 
work of the soul. A man may neglect these, and 
yet live a long and luxurious life upon the earth. 
He is not driven by the very force of circumstances, 
to labor with his heart and will, as he is to labor 
with his hands. And hence he knows little or 
nothing of a weary and heavy-laden soul ; nothing 
of an aching heart and a tired will. He well knows 
how much strain and effort it costs to cut down for- 
ests, open roads, and reduce the wilderness to a fer- 
tile field ; but he does not know bow much toil and 
effort are involved, in the attempt to convert the 
human soul into the garden of the Lord. 

Now in this demand for a perpetual effort which 
is made upon the natural man, by the sense of 
duty, we see that the law which was ordained to 
life is found to be unto death. The commandment, 
instead of being a pleasant friend and companion to 
the human soul, as it was in the beginning, lias be 



RELATION OF MAN TO LAW. 



243 



come a strict rigorous task-master. It lays out au 
uncongenial work for siuful man to do, aud threat- 
ens him with punishment and woe if he does not do 
it. And yet the law is not a tyrant. It is holy, 
just, and good. This work which it lays out is right- 
eous work, and ought to be done. The wicked 
disinclination and aversion of the sinner have com- 
pelled the law to assume this unwelcome and threat- 
ening attitude. That which is ^ood was not made 
death to man by God's agency, and by a Divine ar- 
rangement, but by man's transgression. 1 Sin pro- 
duces this misery in the human soul, through an in- 
strument that is inuocent, and in its own nature 
benevolent and kind. Apostasy, the rebellion and 
corruption of the human heart, has converted the 
law of God into an exacting: task-master and an 
avenging magistrate. For the law says to every 
man what St. Paul says of the magistrate : " Rulers 
are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. 
Wilt thou, then, not be afraid of the power? do 
that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of 
the same. For he is the minister of God to thee for 
good : but if thou do that which is evil, be afraid" 
If man were only conformed to the law ; if the in- 
clination of his heart were only in harmony with 
his sense of duty ; the ten commandments would not 
be accompanied with any thunders or lightnings, 
and the discharge of duty would be as easy, spon- 



1 Eomans yii. 13, 14. 



244 THE ORIGINAL A]ST) THE ACTUAL 



taneous, and as much without effort, as the practice 
of sin now is. 

Thus have we considered two particulars in which 
the Divine law, originally intended to render man 
happy, and intrinsically adapted to do so, now ren- 
ders him miserable. The commandment which was 
ordained to life, he now finds to be unto death, be- 
cause it places him under a continual restraint, and 
drives him to a perpetual effort. These two partic- 
ulars, we need not say, are not all the modes in 
which sin has converted the moral law from a joy 
to a sorrow. We have not discussed the great sub- 
ject of guilt and penalty. This violated law charges 
home the past disobedience and threatens an ever- 
lasting damnation, and thus fills the sinful soul with 
fears and forebodings. In this way, also, the law 
becomes a terrible organ and instrument of misery, 
and is found to be unto death. But the limits of 
this discourse compel us to stop the discussion here, 
and to deduce some practical lessons which are 
suggested by it. 

1. In the first place, we are taught by the sub- 
ject, as thus considered, that the mere sense of duty 
is not Christianity, If this is all that a man is pos- 
sessed of, he is not prepared for the day of judgment, 
and the future life. For the sense of duty, alone 
and by itself, causes misery in a soul that has not 
performed its duty. The law worketh wrath, in 
a creature who has not obeved the law. The 
man that doeth these things shall indeed live by 



KELATIOX OF MAN TO LAW. 



245 



them ; but he who has not done them must die by 
them. 

There have been, and still are, great mistakes 
made at this point. Men have supposed that an 
active conscience, and a lofty susceptibility towards 
right and wrong, will fit them to appear before 
God, and have, therefore, rejected Christ the Pro- 
/ j'pitiation. They have substituted ethics for the ) 
gospel; natural religion for revealed. a I know, 1 ' 1 
says Inimanuel Kant, " of but two beautiful things; 
the starry heavens above my head, and the sense of 
duty within my heart." 1 But, is the sense of duty 
beautif ul to apostate man ? to a being who is not 
conformed to it % Does the holy law of God over- 
arch him like the firmament, " tinged with a blue 
of heavenly dye, and starred with sparkling gold ?" 
Nay, nay. If there be any beauty in the condemn- 
ing law of God, for man the transgressor, it is the 
beauty of the lightnings. There is a splendor in 
them, but there is a terror also. Not until He 
who is the end of the law for righteousness has 
clothed me with His panoply, and shielded me 
from their glittering shafts in the clefts of the 
Rock, do I dare to look at them, as they leap from 
crag to crag, and shine from the east even unto the 
west. 

We do not deny that the consciousness of respon- 

1 Kant : Kritik der Praktischen known, and which I have em- 
Vernunft (Beschlusz). — De Stael's ployed, is less guarded thaii the 
rendering, which is so well original. 



246 



THE ORIGINAL AND THE ACTUAL 



sibility is a lofty one, and are by no means insen- 
sible to the grand and swelling sentiments concern- 
ing the moral law, and human duty, to which this 
noble thinker gives utterance. 1 But we are certain 
that if the sense of duty had pressed upon him to 
the degree that it did upon St. Paul ; had the com- 
mandment " come " to him with the convicting ener- 
gy that it did to St. Augustine, and to Pascal ; he 
too would have discovered that the law which was 
ordained to life is found to be unto death. So long as 
man stands at a distance from the moral law, he can 
admire its glory and its beauty ; but when it comes 
close to him ; when it comes home to him ; when it 
becomes a discerner of the thoughts and intents of 
the heart ; then its glory is swallowed up in its ter- 
ror, and its beauty is lost in its truth. Then he 
who was alive without the law becomes slain by 
the law. Then this ethical admiration of the deca- 
logue is exchanged for an evangelical trust in Jesus 
Christ. 

2. And this leads us to remark, in the second 
place, that this subject shows the meaning of 
Christ 1 s work of Redemption. The law for an alien- 
ated and corrupt soul is a burden. It cannot be 
otherwise; for it imposes a perpetual restraint, ur- 
ges up to an unwelcome duty, and charges home a 
fearful guilt. Christ is well named the Redeemer, 
because He frees the sinful soul from all this. He 



1 Compare the fine apostro- nunft, p. 214, (Ed. Rosen- 
plie to Duty. Peaktisciie Vee- kranz.) 



RELATION OF MAX TO LAW. 



247 



delivers it from the penalty, by assuming it all upon 
Himself, and making complete satisfaction to the 
broken law. He delivers it from the perpetual re- 
straint and the irksome effort, by so renewing and 
changing the heart that it becomes a delight to keep 
the law. We observed, in the first part of the dis- 
course, that if man could only bring the inclination 
of his heart into agreement with his sense of duty, 
he would be happy in obeying, and the conscious- 
ness of restraint and of hateful effort would disap- 
pear. This is precisely what Christ accomplishes 
by His Spirit. He brings the human heart into 
harmony with the Divine law, as it was in the be- 
ginning, and thus rescues it from its bondage and its 
toil. Obedience becomes a pleasure, and the service 
of God, the highest Christian liberty. Oh, would 
that by the act of faith, you might experience this 
liberating effect of the redemption that is iu Christ 
Jesus. So long; as you are out of Christ, vou are 
under a burden that will every day grow heavier, 
and may prove to be fixed and unremovable as the 
mountains. That is a fearful punishment which 
the poet Dante represents as being inflicted upon 
those who were guilty of pride. The poor wretches 
are compelled to support enormous masses of stone 
which bend them over to the ground, and, in his 
own stern phrase, " crumple up their knees into 
their breasts." Thus they stand, stooping over, 
every muscle trembling, the heavy stone weighing 
t^t-m down, and yet they are not permitted to fall, 



248 



RELATION OF MAN TO LAW. 



and rest themselves upon the earth. 1 In this crouch 
ing posture, they must carry the weary heavy load 
without relief, and with a distress so great that, in 
the poet's own language, 

"it seemed 

As he, who showed most patience in his look, 
"Wailing exclaimed : I can endure no more." 2 

Such is the posture of man unredeemed. There 
is a burden on him, under which he stoops and 
crouches. It is a burden compounded of guilt and 
corruption. It is lifted off by Christ, and by Christ 
only. The soul itself can never expiate its guilt ; 
can never cleanse its pollution. We urge you, once 
more, to the act of faith in the Redeemer of the 
world. We beseech you, once more, to make u the 
redemption that is in Christ Jesus " your own. 
The instant you plead the merit of Christ's oblation, 
in simple confidence in its atoning efficacy, that in- 
stant the heavy burden is lifted off by an Almighty 
hand, and your curved, stooping, trembling, aching 
form once more stands erect, and you walk abroad 
in the liberty wherewith Christ makes the human 
creature free. 

1 "Let their eyes be darkened, down their hack alway." Bom. 
that they may not see, and bow xi. 10. 

2 Dante: Purgatory x. 126-128: 



THE SIN OF OMISSION. 



Matthew tax. 20. — " The young man saith unto him, All these things have 
I kept from my youth up : what lack I yet ? " 



The narrative from which the text is taken is 
familiar to all readers of the Bible. A wealthy 
young man, of unblemished morals and amiable dis- 
position, came to our Lord, to inquire His opinion 
respecting his own good estate. He asked what good 
thing he should do, in order to inherit eternal life. 
| The fact that he applied to Christ at all, shows that 
he was not entirely at rest in his own mind. He 
could truly say that he had kept the ten command 
ments from his youth up, in an outward manner ; 
and yet he was ill at ease. He was afraid that when 
the earthly life was over, he might not be able to en- 
dure the judgment of (rod, and might fail to enter 
into that happy paradise of which the Old Testament 
Scriptures so often speak, and of which he had so 
often read, in them. This young man, though a 
moralist, was not a self-sati-fied or a self-conceited 
one. For, had he been like the Pharisee a thorough- 
ly blinded and self-righteous person, like him he 



250 



THE SIN OF OMISSION. 



never would have approached Jesus of Nazareth, to 
obtain His opinion respecting his own religious 
character and prospects. Like him, he would have 
scorned to ask our Lord's judgment upon any mat- 
ters of religion. Like the Pharisees, he would have 
said, " AVe see, 1 ' 1 and the state of his heart and his 
future prospects would have given him no anxiety. 
But he was not a conceited and presumptuous 
Pharisee. He was a serious and thoughtful person, 
though not a pious and holy one. For, he did not 
love God more than he loved his worldly posses- 
sions. He had not obeyed that first and great com- 
mand, upon which hang all the law and the proph- 
ets, conformity to which, alone, constitutes right- 
eousness : " Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with 
all thy heart, and all thy soul, and all thy mind, and 
all thy strength." He was not right at heart, and 
was therefore unprepared for death and judgment. 
This he seems to have had some dim apprehension 
of. For why, if he had felt that his external moral- 
ity was a solid rock for his feet to stand upon, why 
should he have betaken himself to Jesus of Naza- 
reth, to ask : " What lack I yet ? " 

It was not what he had done, but what he had 
left undone, that wakened fears and forebodings 
in this young rulers mind. . The outward obser- 
vance of the ten commandments was right and 
well in its own way and place ; but the failure to 
obey, from the heart, the first and great command 

1 John ix. 41. 



THE SIN OF OMISSION. 



251 



was the condemnation that rested upon Lim. He 
probably knew this, in some measure. He was not 
confidently certain of eternal life ; and therefore he 
came to the Great Teacher, hoping to elicit from 
Him an answer that would quiet his conscience, 
and allow him to repose upon his morality while 
he continued to love this world supremely. The 
Great Teacher pierced him with an arrow. He said 
to him, " If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that 
thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have 
treasure in heaven : and come and follow me. 17 This 
direction showed him what he lacked. 

This incident leads us to consider the condem- 
nation that rests upon every man, for his failure 
in duty ; the guilt that cleaves to him, on account 
of what he has not done. The Westminster Cat- 
echism defines sin to be " any want of conformity 
unto, or any transgression of, the law of God." 
Not to be conformed, in the heart, to the law and 
will of God, is as truly sin, as positively to steal, or 
positively to commit murder. Failure to come up 
to the line of rectitude is as punishable, as to step 
over that line. God requires of His creature that he 
stand squarely vjpon the line of righteousness ; if 
therefore he is off that line, because he has not come 
up to it, he is as guilty as when he transgresses, 
or passes across it, upon the other side. This is 
the reason that the sin of omission is as punishable 
as the sin of commission. In either case alike^ *ie 
man is off the line of rectitude. Hence, in the final 



252 



THE SEN" OF OMISSION. 



day, man will be condemned for what he lacks, for 
what he comes short of, in moral character. Want 
of conformity to the Divine law as really conflicts 
with the Divine law, as an overt transgression does, 
because it carries man off and away from it. One 
of the Greek words for sin (a^iapravElv) signifies, to 
miss the mark. When the archer shoots at the tar- 
get, he as really fails to strike it, if his arrow falls 
short of it, as when he shoots over and beyond it. 
If he strains upon the bow with such a feeble force, 
that the arrow drops upon the ground long before it 
comes up to the mark, his shot is as total a failure, 
as when he strains upon the bow-string with all 
his force, but owing to an ill-directed aim sends his 
weapon into the air. One of the New Testament 
terms for sin contains this figure and illustration, in 
its etymology. Sin is a want of conformity unto, a 
failure to come clear up to, the line and mark pre- 
scribed by God, as well a violent and forcible break- 
ing over and beyond the line and the mark. The 
lack of holy love, the lack of holy fear, the lack of 
filial trust and confidence in God, — the negative 
absence of these and other qualities in the heart is 
as truly sin and guilt, as is the positive and open 
violation of a particular commandment, in the act 
of theft, or lying, or Sabbath-breaking. 

We propose, then, to direct attention to that form 
and aspect of human depravity which consists in 
coming short of the aim and end presented to man 
by his Maker, — that form and aspect of sin which 



THE SIN OF OMISSION. 



253 



is presented in the young ruler's inquiry : " What 
lack I yet » " 

It is a comprehensive answer to this question to 
say, that every natural man lacks sincere and filial 
love of God. This was the sin of the moral, but 
worldly, the amiable, but earthly-minded, young 
man. Endow him, in your fancy, with all the ex- 
cellence you please, it still lies upon the face of the 
narrative, that he loved money more than he loved 
the Lord God Almighty. When the Son of God 
bade him go aud sell his property, and give it to 
the poor, and then come and follow Him as a docile 
disciple like Peter and James and John, he went 
away sad in his mind ; for he had great possessions. 
This was a reasonable requirement, though a very 
trying one. To command a young man of wealth 
and standing immediately to strip himself of all his 
property, to leave the circle in which he had been 
born and brought up, aud to follow the Son of Man, 
who had not where to lay His head, up and down 
through Palestine, through good report and through 
evil report, — to put such a burden upon such a 
young man was to lay him under a very heavy load. 
Looking at it from a merely human and worldly 
point of view, it is not strange that the young ruler 
declined to take it upon his shoulders ; though he 
felt sad in declining, because he had the misoivino; 
that in declining he was sealing his doom. Bat, 
had he loved the Lord God w T ith all his heart ; had 
he been conformed unto the first and great com- 
12 



254 



THE SIN OF OMISSION. 



mand, in Lis heart and affections ; had he not 
lacked a spiritual and filial affection towards his 
Maker ; he would have obeyed. 

For, the circumstances under which this command 
was given must be borne in mind. It issued di- 
rectly from the lips of the Son of God Himself. It 
was not an ordinary call of Providence, in the ordi- 
nary manner in which God summons man to duty. 
There is reason to suppose that the young ruler 
knew and felt that Christ had authority to give 
such directions. We know not what were precisely 
his views of the person and office of Jesus of Naza- 
reth ; but the fact that he came to Him seeking in- 
struction respecting the everlasting kingdom of God 
and the endless life of the soul, and the yet further 
fact that he went away in sadness because he did 
not find it in his heart to obey the instructions that 
he had received, prove that he was at least some- 
what impressed with the Divine authority of our 
Lord. For, had he regarded Him as a mere or- 
dinary mortal, knowing no more than any other 
man concerning the eternal kingdom of God, why 
should His words have distressed him ? Had this 
young ruler taken the view of our Lord which 
was held by the Scribes and Pharisees, like them 
he would never have sought instruction from Him 
in a respectful and sincere manner ; and, like them, 
he would have replied to the command to strip him- 
self of all his property, leave the social circles to 
which he belonged, and follow the despised Naza- 



THE SIN OF OMISSION. 



255 



rene, with the curling lip of scorn. He would not 
have gone away in sorrow, l>ut in contempt. We 
must assume, therefore, that this young ruler felt 
that the person with whom he was conversing, and 
ay ho had given him this extraordinary command, 
had authority to give it. We do not gather from 
the narrative that he doubted upon this point. 
Had he doubted, it would have relieved the sorrow 
with which his mind was disturbed. He might 
have justified his refusal to obey, by the considera- 
tion that this Jesus of Nazareth had no right to 
summon him, or any other man, to forsake the world 
and attach himself to His person and purposes, if 
any such consideration had entered his mind. No, 
the sorrow, the deep, deep sorrow and sadness, with 
which he went away to the beggarly elements of 
his houses and his lands, proves that he knew too 
well that this wonderful Being who was working 
miracles, and speaking words of wisdom that never 
man spake, had indeed authority and light to say 
to him, and to every other man, " Go and sell that 
thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have 
treasure in heaven : and come and follow me." 

Though the command was indeed an extraordinary 
one, it was given in an extraordinary manner, by an 
extraordinary Being. That young ruler was not re- 
quired to do any more than you and I would be 
obligated to do, in the same circumstances. It is 
indeed true, that in the ordinary providence of God, 
you and I are not summoned to sell all our posses- 



256 



THE SIN OF OMISSIOJST. 



sions, and distribute them to the poor, and to go up 
and down the streets of this city, or up and down 
the high-ways and by-ways of the land, as mis- 
sionaries of Christ. But if the call were extra- 
ordinary, — if the heavens should open above 
our heads, and a voice from the skies should 
command us in a manner not to be doubted or dis- 
puted to do this particular thing, we ought imme- 
diately to do it. And if the love of God were in 
our hearts ; if we were inwardly " conformed unto " 
the Divine law; if there were nothing lacking in 
our religious character; we should obey with the 
same directness and alacrity with which Peter and 
Andrew, and James and John, left their nets and their 
fishing-boat, their earthly avocations, their fathers 
and their fathers' households, and followed Christ 
to the end of their days. In the present circum- 
stances of the church and the world, Christians 
must follow the ordinary indications of Divine 
Providence ; and though these do unquestionably 
call upon them to make far greater sacrifices for the 
cause of Christ than they now make, yet they do 
not call upon them to sell all that they have, and 
give it to the poor. But they ought to be ready 
and willing to do so, in case God by any remarkable 
and direct expression should indicate that this is 
His will and pleasure. Should our Lord, for illus- 
tration, descend again, and in His own person say 
to His people, as He did to the young ruler: "Sell 
all that ye have, and give to the poor, and go up 



THE SIN OF OMISSION. 



25T 



and down the earth preaching the gospel," it would 
be the duty of every rich Christian to strip himself 
of all bis riches, and of every poor Christian to 
make himself yet poorer, and of the whole Church 
to adopt the same course that was taken by the 
early Christians, who " had all things common, and 
sold their possessions and goods and parted them 
to all men, as every man had need." The direct 
and explicit command of the Lord Jesus Christ to 
do any particular thing must be obeyed at all haz- 
ards, and at all cost. Should He command any one 
of His disciples to lay down his life, or to undergo 
a severe discipline and experience in His service, 
He must be obeyed. This is what He means when 
He says, "If any man come to me, and hate not 
his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and 
brethren, and sisters, yea and his own life also, he 
cannot be my disciple. And whosoever cloth not 
bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my 
disciple " (Luke xiv. 26, 27). 

The young ruler was subjected to this test. It 
was his privilege, — and it was a great privilege, — - 
to see the Son of God face to face; to hear His 
words of wisdom and authority ; to know without 
any doubt or ambiguity what particular thing 
God would have him do. And he refused to clo it. 
He was moral ; he was amiable ; but he refused 
point-blank to obey the direct command of God 
addressed to him from the very lips of God. t It 
was with him as it would be with us, if the 



258 



THE SIN OF OMISSION. 



sky should open over our heads, and the Son of 
God should descend, and with His own lips should 
command us to perform a particular service, and 
we should be disobedient to the heavenly vision, 
and should say to the Eternal Son of God : " We 
will not." Think you that there is nothing lacking 
in such a character as this ? Is this religious perfec- 
tion % Is such a heart as this " conformed unto * 
the law and will of God ? 

If, then, we look into the character of the young 
ruler, we perceive that there was in it no supreme 
affection for God. On the contrary, he loved him- 
self with all his heart, and soul, and mind, and 
strength. Even his religious anxiety, which led 
him to our Lord for His opinion concerning his good 
estate, proved to be a merely selfish feeling. He 
desired immortal felicity beyond the tomb, — and 
the most irreligious man upon earth desires this, — 
but he did not possess such an affection for God as 
inclined, and enabled, him to obey His explicit com- 
mand to make a sacrifice of his worldly possessions 
for His glory. And this lack of supreme love to 
God was sin. It was a deviation from the line of 
eternal rectitude and righteousness, as really and 
truly as murder, adultery, or theft, or any outward 
breach of any of those commandments which he 
affirmed he had kept from his youth up. This 
coming short of the Divine honor and glory was 
as much contrary to the Divine law, as any overt 
transgression of it could be. 



THE SIN OF OMISSION. 



259 



Fjr love is the fulfilling of the law. The whole 
law, according to Christ, is summed up and con- 
tained in these words : " Thou shall love the Lord 
thy Grod with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as 
thyself." To be destitute of this heavenly affec- 
tion is, therefore, to break the law at the very cen- 
tre and in the very substance of it. Men tell us, 
like this young ruler, that they do not murder, lie, 
or steal, — that they observe all the commandments 
of the second table pertaining to man and their 
relations to man, — and ask, " What lack we yet?" 
Alexander Pope, in the most brilliant and polished 
poetry yet composed by human art, sums up the 
whole of human duty in the observance of the 
rules and requirements of civil morality, and af- 
firms that " an honest man is the noblest work of 
God." But is this so ? Has religion reached its 
last term, and ultimate limit, when man respects 
the rights of property ? Is a person who keeps 
his hands off the goods and chattels of his fellow- 
creature really qualified for the heavenly state, by 
reason of this fact and virtue of honesty? Has 
he attained the chief end of man ? 1 Even if we 
could suppose a perfect obedience of all the statutes 
of the second table, while those of the first table 
were disobeyed; even if one could fulfil all his obli- 

1 Even if we should widen the turn. Honor and high-minded- 

iieaning of the w ord "honest," ness towards man is not love and 

in the above-mentioned dictum reverence towards God. The 

of Pope, and make it include the spirit of chivalry is not the spirit 

Latin " hcnestum," the same ob- of Christianity, 
jection wou-d lie against the die- 



260 



THE SEN" OF OillSSIOX 



gations to his neighbor, while failing in all his ob- 
ligations to his Maker; even if we should concede 
a perfect morality, without any religion; would 
it be true that this morality, or obedience of only 
one of the two tables that cover the whole field of 
human duty, is sufficient to prepare man for the 
everlasting future, and the immediate presence of 
God \ "Who has informed man that the first table 
of the law is of no consequence; and that if he 
only loves his neighbor as himself, he need not love 
his Maker supremely % 

No ! Affection in the heart towards the great and 
glorious God is the sum and substance of religion, 
and whoever is destitute of it is irreligious and sin- 
ful in the inmost spirit, and in the highest degree. 
His fault relates to the most excellent and worthy 
Being in the universe. He comes short of his duty, 
in reference to that Being who more than any otlwr 
one is entitled to his love and his services. We 
say, and we say correctly, that if a man fails of 
fulfilling his obligations towards those who have 
most claims upon him, he is more culpable than 
when he fails of his duty towards those who have 
less claims upon him. If a son comes short of his 
duty towards an affectionate and self-sacrificing 
mother, we say it is a greater fault, than if he 
comes short of his duty to a fellow-citizen. The 
parent is nearer to him than the citizen, and he 
owes unto her a warmer affection of his heart, and 
a more active service of his life, than he owes to his 



TIIE SENT OF OMISSION. 



261 



fellow-citizen. What would be thought of that 
son who should excuse his neglect, or ill-treatment, 
of the mother that bore him, upon the ground that 
he had never cheated a fellow-man and had been 
scrupulous in all his mercantile transactions ! This 
but feebly illustrates the relation which every man 
sustains to God, and the claim which God has upon 
every man. Our first duty and obligation relates 
to our Maker. Our fellow-creatures have claims 
upon us ; the dear partners of our blood have 
claims upon us ; our own personality, with its infi- 
nite destiny for weal or woe, has claims upon us. 
But no one of these; not all of them combined ; 
have upon us thatj^r^ claim which God challenges 
for Himself. Social life, — the state or the nation to 
which we belong, — cannot say to us : " Thou shalt 
love me with all thy heart, and soul, and mind, and 
strength." The family, which is bone of our bone, 
and fiesh of our flesh, cannot say to us: "Thou 
shalt love us, with all thy soul, mind, heart, and 
strength." Even our own deathless and priceless 
soul cannot say to us : u Thou shalt love me su- 
premely, and before ail other beings and things." 
But the infinite and adorable God, the Being that 
made us, and has redeemed us, can of right demand 
that we love and honor Him first of all, and chiefest 
of all. 

There are two thoughts suggested bv the sub- 
ject which we have been considering, to which* we 
now invite candid attention. 

12* 



262 



THE SIN OF OMISSION. 



1. In the first place, this subject convicts every 
man of sin. Our Lord, by his searching reply to 
the young ruler's question, " What lack I yet?" 
sent him away very sorrowful ; and what man, in 
any age and country, can apply the same test to 
himself, without finding* the same unwillingness 
to sell all that he has and give to the poor, — the 
same indisposition to obey any and every command 
of God that crosses his natural inclinations ? Every 
natural man, as he subjects his character to such a 
trial as that to which the young ruler was subjected, 
will discover as he did that he lacks supreme love of 
God, and like him, if he has any moral earnestness ; 
if he feels at all the obligation of duty; will go away 
very sorrowful, because he perceives very plainly the 
conflict between his will and his conscience. How 
many a person, in the generations that have already 
gone to the judgment-seat of Christ, and in the gene- 
ration that is now on the way thither, has been at 
times brought face to face with the great and first 
command, " Thou shall love the Lord thy God with 
all thy heart," and by some particular requirement 
has been made conscious of his utter opposition to 
that great law. Some special duty was urged upon 
him, by the providence, or the word, or the Spirit 
of God, that could not be performed unless his will 
were subjected to God's will, and unless his love for 
himself and the world were subordinated to his love 
of his Maker. If a young man, perhaps he was 
commanded to consecrate his talents and education 



THE SIN OF OMISSION. 



263 



to a life of philanthropy and service of God in 
the gospel, instead of a life devoted to secular 
and pecuniary aims. God said to hiin, by His 
providence, and by conscience, " Go teach my gos- 
pel to the perishing; go preach my word to the 
dying and the lost." But he loved worldly ease 
pleasure and reputation more than he loved God ; 
and he refused, and went away sorrowful, because 
this poor world looked very bright and alluring, 
and the path of self-denial and duty looked very 
forbidding. Or, if he was a man in middle life, 
perhaps he was commanded to abate his interest 
in plans for the accumulation of wealth, to con- 
tract his enterprises, to give attention to the con- 
cerns of his soul and the souls of his children, to 
make his own peace with God, and to consecrate 
the remainder of his life to Christ and to human 
welfare ; and when this plain and reasonable course 
of conduct was dictated to him, he found his whole 
heart rising up against the proposition. Our Lord, 
alluding to the fact that there was nothing in com- 
mon between His spirit, and the spirit of Satan, 
said to His disciples, " The prince of this world 
cometh, and hath nothing in me " (John xiv. 30). 
So, when the command to love God supremely 
comes to this man of the world, in any particular 
form, "it hath nothing in him." This first and 
great law finds no ready and genial response within 
his heart, but on the contrary a recoil within * his 
soul as if some great monster had started up in his 



264 



THE SIN 01 OMISSION. 



pathway. He says, in his mind, to the proposition : 
''Anything but that;" and, with the young ruler, 
he goes away sorrowful, because he knows that 
refusal is perdition. 

Is there not a wonderful power to convict of sin, 
in this test ? If you try yourself, as the young 
man did, by the command, " Thou shalt not kill/' 
"Thou shalt not steal," "Thou shalt not commit 
adultery," you may succeed, perhaps, in quieting: 
your conscience, to some extent, and in possessing 
yourself of the opinion of your fitness for the king- 
dom of God. But ask yourself the question, " Do 
I love God supremely, and am I ready and willing 
to do any and every particular thing that He shall 
command me to do, even if it is plucking out a 
right eye, or cutting off a right hand, or selling all 
my goods to give to the poor ? " try yourself by 
this test, and see if you lack anything in your 
moral character. When this thorough and proper 
touch-stone of character is applied, there is not 
found upon earth a just man that doeth good 
and sinneth not. Every human creature, by this 
test is concluded under sin. Every man is found 
lacking in what he ought to possess, when the 
words of the commandment are sounded in his ear: 
" Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy 
heart, and all thy soul, and all thy mind, and all 
thy strength." This sum and substance of the 
Divine law, upon which hang all the other laws, 
convinces every man of sin. For there is no escap 



THE SIN OF OMISSION. 



2C5 



ing its force. Love of God is a distinct and definite 
feeling, and every person knows whether he ever 
experienced it. Every man knows whether it is, 
or is not, an affection of his heart ; and he knows 
that if it be wanting, the foundation of religion is 
wanting in his soul, and the sum and substance of 
sin is there. 

2. And this leads to the second and concluding 
thought suggested by the subject, namely, that ex- 
cept a man be bom again, lie cannot see the kingdom 
of God. If there be any truth in the discussion 
through which we have passed, it is plain and in- 
controvertible, that to be destitute of holy love to 
God is a departure and deviation from the moral 
law. It is a coming short of the great requirement 
that rests upon every accountable creature of God, 
and this is as truly sin and guilt as any violent and 
open passing over and beyond the line of rectitude. 
The sin of omission is as deep and damning as the 
sin of commission. " Forgive,"— said the dying 

| archbishop Usher, — "forgive all my sins, especially 

j my sins of omission." 

But how is this lack to be supplied ? How is 
this great hiatus in human character to be filled up ? 
How shall the fountain of holy and filial affection 
towards God be made to gush up into everlasting 
life, within your now unloving and hostile heart \ 
There is no answer to this question of questions, 
but in the Person and Work of the Holy Ghost. 
If God shall shed abroad His love in your heart, by 



266 



THE SIN OF OMISSION. 



tlie Holy Gliost which is given unto you, you will 
know the blessedness of a new affection ; and will 
be able to say with Peter, " Thou knowest all 
things ; thou knowest that I love thee." You are 
shut up to this method, and this influence. To 
generate within yourself this new spiritual emotion 
which you have never yet felt, is utterly impossible. 
Yet you must get it, or religion is impossible, and 
immortal life is impossible. Would that you might 
feel your straits, and your helplessness. Would 
that you might perceive your total lack of supreme 
love of 'God, as the young ruler perceived his ; and 
would that, unlike him, instead of going away from 
the Son of God, you would go to Him, crying, 
" Lord create within me a clean heart, and renew 
within me a right spirit." Then the problem would 
be solved, and having peace with God through the 
blood of Christ, the love of God would be shed 
abroad in your hearts, through the Holy Ghost 
given unto you. 



THE SINFULNESS OE OKIG-INAL SIN. 



Matthew xix. 20. — " The young man saith unto him, All these things have 
I kept from my youth up : what lack I yet ? " 



In the preceding discourse from these words, we 
discussed that form and aspect of sin which consists 
in "coming short" of the Divine law, or, as the 
Westminster Creed states it, in a " want of confor- 
mity " unto it. The deep and fundamental sin of 
the young ruler, we found, lay in what he lacked. 
When our Lord tested him, he proved to be utter- 
ly destitute of love to God. His soul was a com- 
plete vacuum, in reference to that great holy affec- 
tion which fills the hearts of all the ffood beings 
before the throne of God, and without which no 
creature can stand, or will wish to stand, in the Di- 
vine presence. The young ruler, though outwardly 
moral and amiable, when searched in the inward 
parts was found wanting in the sum and substance 
of religion. He did not love God ; and he did love 
himself and his possessions. 

What man has omitted to do, what man is des- 
titute of, — this is a species of sin which he does not 



268 



SINFULNESS OF ORIGINAL SIN. 



sufficiently consider, and which is weighing him 
down to perdition. The unregenerate person when 
pressed to repent of his sins, and believe on the 
Lord Jesus Christ, often beats back the kind effort, 
by a question like that which Pilate put to the 
infuriated Jews : " Why, what evil have I done \ " 
It is the subject of his actual and overt transgres- 
sions that comes first into his thoughts, and, like the 
young ruler, he tells his spiritual friend and adviser 
that he has kept all the commandments from his 
youth up. The conviction of sin would be more 
common if the natural man would consider his fail- 
ures / if he would look into his heart and perceive 
what he is destitute of, and into his conduct and. see 
what he has left undone. 

In pursuing this subject, we propose to show, 
still further, the guiltiness of every man, from the 
fact that he lacks the original righteousness that 
once belonged to him. We shall endeavor to prove 
that every child of Adam is tinder condemnation, 
or, in the words of Christ, that " the wrath of God 
abides upon him " (John iii. 36), because he is not 
possessed of that pure and perfect character which 
his Maker gave him in the beginning. Man is cul- 
pable for not continuing to stand upon the high 
and sinless position, in which he was originally 
placed. When the young ruler's question is put to 
the natural man, and the inquiry is made as to his 
defects and deficiency, it is invariably discovered 
that he lacks the image of God in which he was 



SINFULNESS OF OEIGINAL SIN. 



2G9 



created. And for a rational being to be destitute 
of the image of God is sin, guilt, and condemnation, 
because every rational being has once received this 
image. 

God has the right to demand from every one of 
his responsible creatures, all that the creature might 
be, had he retained possession of the endowments 
which he received at creation, and had he employed 
them with fidelity. The perfect gifts and capacities 
originally bestowed upon man, and not the muti- 
lated and damaged powers subsequently arising from 
a destructive act of self-will, furnish the proper rule 
of measurement, in estimating human merit or de- 
merit. The faculties of intelligence and will as wiv- 
fallen, and not as fallen, determine the amount of 
holiness and of service that may be demanded, 
upon principles of strict justice, from every individ- 
ual. All that man " comes short " of this is so 
much sin, guilt, and condemnation. 

When the great Sovereign and Judge looks down 
from His throne of righteousness and equity, upon 
any one of the children of men, He considers what 
that creature was by creation, and compares his 
present character and conduct with the character 
with which he was originally endowed, and the con- 
duct that would naturally have flowed therefrom. 
God made man holy and perfect. God created man 
in his own image (Gen i. 26), "endued with knowl- 
edge, righteousness, and true holiness, having the 
law of God written in his heart, and power to lulnl 



210 



SINFULNESS OF ORIGINAL SIN. 



it." This is the statement of the Creed which we 
accept as a fair and accurate digest of the teachings 
of Revelation, respecting the primitive character of 
man, and his original righteousness. And all evan- 
gelical creeds, however they may differ from each 
other in their definitions of original righteousness, 
and their estimate of the perfections and powers 
granted to man by creation, do yet agree that he 
stood higher when he came from the hand of God 
than he now stands ; that man's actual character 
and conduct do not come up to man's created pow- 
er and capacities. Solemn and condemning as it is, 
it is yet a fact, that inasmuch as every man was 
originally made in the holy image of God, he ought, 
this very instant to be perfectly holy. He ought 
to be standing upon a position that is as high above 
his actual position, as the heavens are high above 
the earth. He ought to be possessed of a moral 
perfection without spot or wrinkle, or any such 
thing. He ought to be as he was, when created 
in righteousness and true holiness. He ought to 
be dwelling high up on those lofty and glori- 
ous heights where he was stationed by the benevo- 
lent hand of his Maker, instead of wallowing 
in those low depths where he has fallen by an act 
of apostasy and rebellion. Nothing short of this 
satisfies the obligations that are resting upon him. 
An imperfect holiness, such as the Christian is pos- 
sessed of while here upon earth, does not come up 
to the righteous requirement of the moral law ; and 



SINFULNESS OF ORIGINAL SIN. 



271 



certainly that kind of moral character which belongs 
to the natural man is still farther off from the sum- 
total that is demanded. 

Let us press this truth, that we may feel its con- 
victing and condemning energy. When our Maker 
speaks to us upon the subject of His claims and our 
obligations, He tells us that when we came forth 
from nonentity into existence, from His hand, we 
were well endowed, and well furnished. He tells 
us distinctly, that He did not create us the depraved 
and . sinful beings that we now are. He tells us 
that these earthly affections, this carnal mind, this 
enmity towards the Divine law, this disinclination 
towards religion and spiritual concerns, this ab- 
sorbing love of the world and this supreme love of 
self, — that these were not implanted or infused 
into the soul by our wise, holy, and good Creator. 
This is not His work. This is no part of the furni- 
ture with which mankind were set up for an ever- 
lasting existence. " God saw everything that he 
had made, and behold it was very good " (Gen. i. 
31). We acknowledge the mystery that overhangs 
the union and connection of all men with the first 
man. We know that this corruption of man's 
nature, and this sinfulness of his heart, does indeed 
appear at the very beginning of his individual life. 
He is conceived in sin, and shapen in iniquity (Ps. 
li. 5). This selfish disposition, and this alienation 
of the heart from God, is native depravity, is in- 
born corruption. This we know both from Revela- 



272 



SIKFULXESS OF OBIGrXAL SK. 



tion, and observation. But we also know, from 
the same infallible Revelation, that though man is 
born a sinner from the sinful Adam, he was created 
a saint in the holy Adam. By origin he is holy, 
and by descent he is sinful ; because there has 
intervened, between his creation and his birth, that 
" offence of one man whereby all men were made 
sinners" (Bom. v. 18, 19). Though we cannot 
unravel the whole mystery of this subject, yet if 
we accept the revealed fact, and concede that God 
did originally make man in His own image, in 
righteousness and true holiness, and that man has 
since unmade himself, by the act of apostasy and 
rebellion, 1 — if we take this as the true and correct 
statement of the facts in the case, then we can see 
how and why it is, that God has claims upon His 
creature, man, that extend to what this creature 
originally was and was capable of becoming, and 
not merely to what he now is, and is able to per- 
form. 

AVhen, therefore, the young ruler's question, 
" "What lack I ? " is asked and answered upon a 
broad scale, each and every man must say : " I lack 
original righteousness ; I lack the holiness with 
which God created man ; I lack that perfection of 

1 The Augustinian doctrine, fallen and vitiated by an act of 

that the entire human species self-will has been procreated or 

was created on the sixth day, ex- individualized, permits the theo- 

isted as a nature (not as individ- logian to say that all men are 

uals) in the first human pair, act- equally concerned in the origin of 

ed in and fell with them in the sin. and to charge the guilt of its 

first transgression, and as thus origin upon all alike. 



SINFULNESS OF ORIGINAL SIN. 



273 



character which belonged to my rational and im- 
mortal nature coming fresh from the hand of God in 
the person of Adam ; I lack all that I should now 
be possessed of, had that nature not apostatized 
from its Maker and its Sovereign." And when God 
forms His estimate of man's obligations ; when He 
lays judgment to the line, and righteousness to the 
plummet ; He goes back to the beginning, He goes 
back to creation, and demands from His rational 
and immortal creature that perfect service which 
he was capable of rendering by creation, but which 
now he is unable to render because of subsequent 
apostasy. For, God cannot adjust His demands to 
the alterations which sinful man makes in himself. 
This would be to annihilate all demands and obli- 
gations. A sliding-scale would be introduced, by 
this method, that would reduce human duty by 
degrees to a minimum, where it would disappear. 
For, the more sinful a creature becomes, the less 
inclined, and consequently the less able does he 
become to obey the law of God. If, now, the Eter- 
nal Judge shapes His requisitions in accordance 
with the shifting character of His creature, and 

O 7 

lowers His law down just as fast as the sinner en- 
slaves himself to lust and sin, it is plain that sooner 
or later all moral obligation will run out ; and 
whenever the creature becomes totally enslaved to 
self and flesh, there will no longer be any claims 
resting upon him. But this cannot be so. " For 
the kingdom of heaven" — says our Lord, — " is as* a 



274 



SINFULNESS OF ORIGINAL SIN. 



man travelling into a far country, who called bis 
own servants and delivered unto them his goods. 
And unto one he gave five talents, and to another 
two, and to another one ; and straightway took his 
journey." When the settlement was made, each 
and every one of the parties was righteously sum- 
moned to account for all that had originally been 
intrusted to him, and to show a faithful improve- 
ment of the same. If any one of the servants had 
been found to have " lacked " a part, or the whole, 
of the original treasure, because he had culpably 
lost it, think you that the fact that it was now gone 
from his possession, and was past recovery, would 
have been accepted as a valid excuse from the 
original obligations imposed upon him? In like 
manner, the fact, that man cannot reinstate himself 
in his original condition of holiness and blessedness, 
from which he has fallen by apostasy, will not suf- 
fice to justify him before God for being in a help- 
less state of sin and misery, or to give him any 
claims upon God for deliverance from it. God can 
and does pity him, in his ruined and lost estate, and 
if the creature will cast himself upon His mercy, ac- 
knowledging* the righteousness of the entire claims 
of God upon him for a sinless perfection and a per 
feet service, he will meet and find mercy. But if 
he takes the ground that he does not owe such an 
immense debt as this, and that God has no ri^ht to 
demand from him, in his apostate and helpless 
condition, the same perfection of character and 



(SINFULNESS OF ORIGINAL SIX. 



275 



obedience which holy Adam possessed and rendered, 
and which the unfallen angels possess and render, 
God will leave him to the workings of conscience, 
and the operations of stark unmitigated law and 
justice. " The kingdom of heaven," — says our Lord, 
— " is likened unto a certain king which would 
take account of his servants. And when he had 
begun to reckon, one was brought unto him which 
owed him ten thousand talents ; but forasmuch as 
he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be 
sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he 
had, and payment to be made. The servant there- 
fore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, 
have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 
Then the lord of that servant was moved with com- 
passion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt " 
(Matt, xviii. 23-27). But suppose that that ser- 
vant bad disputed the claim, and had put in an 
appeal to justice instead of an appeal to mercy, 
upon the ground that inasmuch as he had lost his 
property and had nothing to pay with, therefore 
he was not obligated to pay, think you that the 
king would have conceded the equity of the claim ? 
On the contrary, he would have entered into no 
argument in so plain a case, but would have " de- 
livered him to the tormentors, till he should pay 
all that was due unto him." So likewise shall the 
heavenly Father do also unto you, and to every 
man, who attempts to diminish the original claim 
of God to a perfect obedience and service, by plead- 



276 



SINFULNESS OF OKIGLNAL SIN. 



ing the fall of man, the corruption of human nature, 
the strength of sinful inclination and affections, and 
the power of earthly temptation. All these are 
man's work, and not that of the Creator. This 
helplessness and bondage grows directly out of the 
nature of sin. " Whosoever committeth sin is the 
slave of sin. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield 
yourselves slaves to obey, his slaves ye are to 
whom ye obey ; whether of sin unto death, or of 
obedience unto righteousness ? " (John viii. 34 ; 
Rom. tL 16). 

In view of the subject as thus discussed, we in- 
vite attention to some practical conclusions that now 
directly out of it. For, though we have been speak- 
ing upon one of the most difficult themes in Chris- 
tian theology, namely man's creation in holiness 
and his loss of holiness by the aj30stasy in Adam, 
yet we have at the same time been speaking of one 
of the most humbling, and practically profitable, 
doctrines in the whole circle of revealed truth. We 
never shall arrive at any profound sense of sin, 
unless we know and feel our guilt and corruption 
by nature ; and we shall never arrive at any pro- 
found sense of our guilt and corruption by nature, 
unless we know and understand the original right- 
eousness and innocence in which we were first 
created. We can measure the great depth of the 
abyss into which we have fallen, only by look- 
ing up to those great heights in the garden of 
Eden, upon which our nature once stood beautiful 



SINFULNESS OF ORIGINAL SIN. 



277 



and glorious, the very image and likeness of our 
Creator. 

1. We remark then, in the first place, that it is 
the duty of every man to humble himself on account 
of his lack of original righteousness, and to repent 
of it as sin before God. 

One of the articles of the Presbyterian Confession 
of Faith reads thus : " Every sin, both original and 
actual, bein£ a transgression of the righteous law 
of God, and contrary thereunto, doth, in its own 
nature, bring guilt upon the sinner, whereby he is 
bound over to the wrath of God, and curse of the 
law, and so made subject to death, with all miseries 
spiritual, temporal, and eternal." 1 The Creed which 
we accept summons us to repent of original as well as 
actual sin ; and it defines original sin to be " the 
want of original righteousness, together with the 
corruption of the whole nature." The want of origi- 
nal righteousness, then, is a ground of condemnation, 
and therefore a reason for shame, and godly sorrow. 
This righteousness is something which man once had, 
ought still to have, but now lacks ; and therefore 
its lack is ill-deserving, for the very same reason 
that the young ruler's lack of supreme love to God 
was ill-deserving. 

If we acknowledge the validity of the distinction 
between a sin of omission and a sin of commission, 
and concede that each alike is culpable, 2 we shall 

1 Confession of Faith, VI. vi. 
2 One of the points of differ- position of each was taken, 
ence between the Protestant and related to the guilt of original 
the Papist, when the dogmatic sin, — the former afllrming, and 

13 



278 



SINFULNESS OF ORIGINAL SIN. 



find no difficulty with this demand of the Creed. 
Why should not you and I mourn over the total 
want of the image of God in our hearts, as much 
as over any other form and species of sin ? This 
image of God consists in holy reverence. When 
we look into our hearts, and find no holy reverence 
there, ought we not to he filled with shame and 
sorrow ? This image of God consists in filial and 
| supreme affection for God, such as the young ruler 
lacked ; and when we look into our hearts, and find 
not a particle of supreme love to God in them, ought 
we not to repent of this original, this deep-seated, 
this innate depravity ? This image of God, again, 
which was lost in our apostasy, consisted in hum- 
ble constant trust in God ; and when we search our 
souls, and perceive that there is nothing of this 
spirit in them, but on the contrary a strong and 
overmastering disposition to trust in ourselves, and 
to distrust our Maker, ought not tins discovery to 
waken in us the very same feeling that Isaiah gave 
expression to, when he said that the whole head is 
sick, and the whole heart is faint ; the very same 
feeling that David gave expression to, when he 
cried : " Behold I was shapen in iniquity, and in 
sin did my mother conceive me ? " 

This is to repent of original sin, and there is no 
mystery or absurdity about it. It is to turn the 
eye inward, and see what* is lacking in our heart 



the latter denying. It is also one tween Calvinism and Arminian 
of the points of difference be- ism. 



SINFULNESS OF OKIGINAL SIN. 



279 



and affections; and not merely what of outward 
and actual transgressions we have committed. 
Those whose idea of moral excellence is like that 
of the young ruler ; those who suppose holiness 
to consist merely in the outward observance of 
the commandments of the second table; those 
who do not look into the depths of their nature, 
and contrast the total corruption that is there, with 
the perfect and positive righteousness that ought 
to be there, and that was there by creation, — all 
such will find the call of the Creed to repent of 
original sin as well as of actual, a perplexity and an 
impossibility. But every man who knows that 
the substance of piety consists in positive and holy 
affections, — in holy reverence, love and trust, — and 
who discovers that these are wanting in him by 
nature, though belonging to him by creation, will 
mourn in deep contrition and self-abasement over 
that act of apostasy by which this great change in 
human character, this great lack was brought about. 

2. In the second place, it follows from the sub- 
ject we have discussed, that every man must, by 
some method, recover his original righteoicsness, 
or be mined forever. " Without holiness no man 
shall see the Lord.' 1 No rational creature is fit to 
appear in the presence of his Maker, unless he is as 
pure and perfect as he was originally made. Holy 
Adam was prepared by his creation in the image 
of God, to hold blessed communion with God, and 
if he and his posterity had never lost this image, 



280 



SINFULNESS OF OKIGINAL SIN. 



they would forever be in fellowship with their Cre- 
ator and Sovereign. Holiness, and holiness alone, 
enables the creature to stand with angelic tranquil- 
lity, in the presence of Him before whom the 
heavens and the earth flee away. The loss of 
original righteousness, therefore, was the loss of the 
wedding garment ; it was the loss of the only robe 
in which the creature could appear at the banquet 
of God. Suppose that one of the posterity of sin- 
ful Adam, destitute of holy love reverence and 
faith, lacking positive and perfect righteousness, 
should be introduced into the seventh heavens, and 
there behold the infinite Jehovah. Would he not 
feel, with a misery and a shame that could not be 
expressed, that he was naked ? that he was utterly 
unfit to appear in such a Presence \ No wonder 
that our first parents, after their apostasy, felt that 
they were unclothed. They were indeed stripped 
of their character, and had not a rag of righteous- 
ness to cover them. No wonder that they hid them- 
selves from the intolerable purity and brightness 
of the Most High. Previously, they had felt no 
such emotion. They were u not ashamed," we are 
told. And the reason lay in the fact that, before 
their apostasy, they were precisely as they were 
made. They were endowed with the image of 
God ; and their original righteousness and perfect 
holiness qualified them to stand before their Maker, 
and to hold blessed intercourse with Him. But 
the instant they lost their created endowment of 



SINFULNESS OF ORIGINAL SIN. 



281 



holiness, they were conscious that they lacked that 
indispensable something wherewith to appear be- 
fore God. 

And precisely so is it, with their posterity. 
Whatever a man's theory of the future life may 
be, he must be insane, if he supposes that he is fit 
to appear before God, and to enter the society of 
heaven, if destitute of holiness, and wanting the 
Divine image. When the spirit of man returns to 
God who gave it, it must return as good as it came 
from His hands, or it will be banished from the 
Divine presence. Every human soul, when it goes 
back to its Maker, must carry with it a righteous- 
ness, to say the very least, equal to that in which 
it was originally created, or it will be cast out as 
an unprofitable and wicked servant. All the tal- 
ents entrusted must be returned ; and returned 
with usury. A modern philosopher and poet repre- 
sents the suicide as justifying the taking of his own 
life, upon the ground that he was not asked in the 
beginning, whether he wanted life. He had no 
choice whether he would come into existence or 
not; existence was forced upon him , and therefore 
he had a right to put au end to it, if he so pleased. 
To this, the reply is made, that he ought to return 
his powers and faculties to the Creator in as good 
condition as he received them ; that he had no right 
to mutilate and spoil them by abuse, and then fling 
the miserable relics of what was originally a noble 
creation, in the face of the Creator. In answer to 



282 



SINFULNESS OF OKIGHSTAL SIN. 



the suicide's proposition to give back his spirit to 
God who gave it, the poet represents God as say- 
ing to him : 

''Is't returned as 'twas sent? Is't no worse for the wear? 
Think first what you are! Call to mind what you werel 
I gave you innocence, I gave you hope, 
Gave health, and genius, and an ample scope. 
Return you me guilt, lethargy, despair? 
Make out the invent'ry ; inspect, compare! 
Then die, — if die you dare!" 1 

Yes, this is trne and solemn reasoning. You 
and I, and every man, must by some method, or 
other, go back to God as good as we came forth 
from Him. We must regain our original risrht- 
eousness ; we must be reinstated in our primal rela- 
tion to God, and our created condition ; or there is 
nothing in store for us, but the blackness of dark- 
ness. We certainly cannot stand in the judgment 
clothed with original sin, instead of original right- 
eousness ; full of carnal and selfish affections, in- 
stead of pure and heavenly affections. This great 
lack, this great vacuum, in our character, must by 
some method be filled up with solid and everlast- 
ing excellencies, or the same finger that wrote, in 
letters of fire, upon the wall of the Babylonian 
monarch, the awful legend : " Thou art weighed 
in the balance, and art found wanting," will write 
it in letters of fire upon our own rational spirit. 

There is but one method, by which man's original 

1 Coleridge ; Works, VII. 295. 



SINFULNESS OF ORIGINAL SIN. 



288 



righteousness and innocency can be regained ; and 
this method you well know. The blood of Jesus 
Christ sprinkled by the Holy Ghost, upon your 
guilty conscience, reinstates you in innocency. 
When that is applied, there is no more guilt upon 
you, than there wa3 upon Adam the instant he 
came from the creative hand. " There is no con- 
demnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." Who 
is he that conclemneth, when it is Christ that died, 
and God that justifies \ And when the same Holy 
Spirit enters your soul with renewing power, and 
carries forward His work of sanctification to its 
final completion, your original righteousness returns 
again, and you are again clothed in that spotless 
robe with which your nature was invested, on that 
sixth day of creation, when the Lord God said, 
" Let us make man in our inia^e, and after our 
likeness." Ponder these truths, and what is yet 
more imperative, act upon them. Kerne mber that 
you must, by some method, become a perfect crea- 
ture, in order to become a blessed creature in 
heaven. Without holiness you cannot see the 
Lord. You must recover the character which you 
have lost, and the peace with God in which you 
were created. Your spirit, when it returns to 
God, must by some method be made equal to what 
it was when it came forth from Him. And there 
is no method, but the method of redemption by 
the blood and righteousness of Christ. Men are 
running to and fro after other methods. The 



284 



SINFULNESS OF ORIGINAL SIN". 



memories of a golden age, a better humanity than 
they now know of, haunt them ; and they sigh for 
the elysium that is gone. One sends you to let- 
ters, and culture, for your redemption. Another 
tells you that morality, or philosophy, will lift 
you again to those paradisaical heights that tower 
high above your straining vision. But miserable 
comforters are they all. No golden age returns ; 
no peace with God or self is the result of such 
instrumentality. The conscience is still perturbed, 
the forebodings still overhang the soul like a black 
cloud, and the heart is as throbbing and restless 
as ever. With resoluteness, then, turn away from 
these inadequate, these feeble methods, and adopt 
the method of God Almighty. Turn away with 
contempt from human culture, and finite forces, as 
the instrumentality for the redemption of the soul 
which is precious, and which ceaseth forever if it 
is unredeemed. Go with confidence, and courage, 
and a rational faith, to God Almighty, to God the 
Redeemer. He hath power. He is no feeble and 
finite creature. He waves a mighty weapon, and 
sweats great drops of blood ; travelling in the 
greatness of His strength. Hear His words of 
calm confidence and power : " Come unto me, all 
ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give 
you rest." 



THE APPROBATION OP GOODNESS IS NOT THE LOYE OP IT. 



Roaians ii. 21-23. — "Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou 
not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? 
thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commi* 
adultery ? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege ? thou 
that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonorest 
thou God ? " ' 

The apostle Paul is a very keen and cogent rea 
soner. Like a powerful logician who is confident 
that he has the truth upon his side, and like a pure- 
minded man who has no sinister ends to gain, lie 
often takes his stand upon the same ground with 
his opponent, adopts his positions, and condemns 
him out of his own mouth. In the passage from 
which the text is taken, he brings the Jew in guilty 
before God, by employing the Jew's own claims 
and statements. "Behold thou art called a Jew, 
and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, 
and knowest his will, and approvest the things 
that are more excellent, and art confident that thou 
thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them 
which are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish. 
Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest .thou 
not thyself? thou that preachest that a man should 

18* 



236 



THE APPROBATION OP GOODNESS 



not steal, dost thou steal ? thou that makest thy 
boast of the law, through breaking the law dishon- 
orest thou God ? " As if he had said : " You claim 
to be one of God's chosen people, to possess a true 
knowledge of Him and His law; why do you not 
act up to this knowledge ? why do you not by your 
character and conduct prove the claim to be a valid 
one?" 

The apostle had already employed this same spe- 
cies of argument against the Gentile world. In the 
first chapter of this Epistle to the Romans, St. Paul 
demonstrates that the pagan world is justly con- 
demned by God, because, they too, like the Jew, 
knew more than they practised. He affirms that 
the Greek and Roman world, like the Jewish people, 
''when they knew God, glorified him not as God, 
neither were thankful ; " that as " they did not like 
to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them 
over to a reprobate mind ; " and that " knowing the 
judgment of God, that they which commit such 
things" as he had just enumerated in that awful 
catalogue of pagan vices " are worthy of death, not 
only do the same, but have pleasure in them that 
do them." The apostle does not for an instant con- 
cede, that the Gentile can put in the plea that he 
\vas so entirely ignorant of the character and law 
of God, that he ought to be excused from the 
obligation to love and obey Him. He expressly 
affirms that where there is absolutely no law, and 
no knowledge of law, there can be no transgression ; 



IS NOT THE LOVE OF IT. 



287 



and yet affirms that in the day of judgment every 
mouth must be stopped, and the whole world must 
plead guilty before God. It is indeed true, that 
he teaches that there is a difference in the degrees 
of knowledge which the Jew and the Gentile re- 
spectively possess. The light of revealed religion, 
in respect to man's duty and obligations, is far 
clearer than the light of nature, and increases the 
responsibilities of those who enjoy it, and the con- 
demnation of those who abuse it ; but the light of 
nature is clear and true as far as it goes, and is 
enough to condemn every soul outside of the pale 
of Revelation. For, in the day of judgment, there 
will not be a single human creature who can look 
his Judge in the eye, and say : u I acted up to every 
particle of moral light that I enjoyed ; I never 
thought a thought, felt a feeling, or did a deed, for 
which my conscience reproached me." 

It follows from this, that the lang;uao;e of the 
apostle, in the text, may be applied to every man. 
The argument that has force for the Jew has force 
for the Gentile. " Thou that teachest another, 
teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest that 
a man should not steal, dost thou steal? " You who 
know the character and claims of God, and are able 
to state them to another, why do you not revere 
and obey them in your own person \ You who ap- 
prove of the law of God as pure and perfect, why do 
you not conform your own heart and conduct to it ? 
You who perceive the excellence of piety in another, 



288 



THE APPROBATION OP GOODNESS 



you who praise and admire moral excellence in 
your fellow-man, why do yon not seek after it, and 
toil after it in your own heart? In paying this 
tribute of approbation to the character of a God 
whom you do not yourself love and serve, and to a 
piety in your neighbor which you do not yourself 
possess and cultivate, are you not writing down 
your own condemnation ? How can you stand be- 
fore the judgment-seat of God, after having in this 
manner confessed through your whole life upon 
earth that God is good, and His law is perfect, and 
?t through that whole life have gone counter to 
your own confession, neither loving that God, nor 
obeying that law? " To him that knoweth to do 
good and doeth it not, to him it is sin. 1 ' (James 
iv. 17.) 

The text then, together with the chains of rea- 
soning that are connected with it, leads us to con- 
sider the fact, that a man may admire and praise 
moral excellence without possessing or practising it 
himself ; that the approbation of goodness is not the 
same as the love of it. 1 

L This is proved, in the first place, from the tes- 
timony of both God and man. The assertions and 
reasonings of the apostle Paul have already been 
alluded to, and there are many other passages of 
Scripture which plainly imply that men may ad- 

1 See, upon this whole subject the profound and discriminating 

of conscience as distinguished views of Edwards : The Nature 

from will, and of amiable instincts of Virtue, Chapters v. vi. vii. 
as distinguished from holiness, 



IS NOT THE LOVE OF IT. 



289 



mire and approve of a virtue which they do not 
practise. Indeed, the language of our Lord re- 
specting the Scribes and Pharisees, may be applied 
to disobedient mankind at large : " Whatsoever 
they bid you observe, that observe and do ; but do 
ye not after their works : for they say, and do not." 
(Matt, xxiii. 3.) The testimony of man is equally 
explicit. That is a very remarkable witness which 
the poet Ovid bears to this truth. " I see the right,' 1 
— he says, — " and approve of it, but I follow and 
practise the wrong." This is the testimony of a 
profligate man of pleasure, in whom the light of na- 
ture had been greatly dimmed in the darkness of 
sin and lust. But he had not succeeded in annihi- 
lating his conscience, and hence, in a sober hour, he 
left upon record his own damnation. He expressly 
informed the whole cultivated classical world, who 
were to read his polished numbers, that he that had 
taught others had not taught himself; that he 
who had said that a man should not commit adul- 
tery had himself committed adultery ; that an edu- 
cated Roman who never saw the volume of inspira- 
tion, and never heard of either Moses or Christ, 
nevertheless approved of and praised a virtue that 
he never put in practice. And whoever will turn 
to the pages of Horace, a kindred spirit to Ovid 
both in respect to a most exquisite taste and a most 
refined earthliness, will frequently find the same 
confession breaking out. Nay, open the volumes 
of Rousseau, and even of Voltaire, and read their 



290 



THE APPROBATION" OF GOODMSS 



panegyrics of virtue, their eulogies of goodness. 
What are these, but testimonies that they, too, saw 
the right and did the wrong. It is true, that the 
eulogy is merely sentimentalism, and is very differ- 
ent from the sincere and noble tribute which a 
good man renders to goodness. Still, it is valid 
testimony to the truth that the mere approbation 
of goodness is not the love of it. It is true, that 
these panegyrics of virtue, when read in the light 
of Rousseau's sensuality and Voltaire's malignity, 
wear a dead and livid hue, like objects seen in the 
illumination from phosphorus or rotten wood ; yet, 
nevertheless, they are visible and readable, and tes- 
tify as distinctly as if they issued from elevated 
and noble natures, that the teachings of man's con- 
science are not obeyed by man's heart, — that a man 
may praise and admire virtue, while he loves and 
practises vice. 

II. A second proof that the approbation of good- 
ness is not the love of it is found in the fact, that 
it is impossible not to approve of goodness, while it is 
^ possible not to love it. The structure of man's con- 
science is such, that he can commend only the 
right; but the nature of his will is such, that he may 
be conformed to the right or the wronor. The con- 
science can give only one judgment ; but the heart 
and will are capable of two kinds of affection, and 
two courses of action. Every rational creature is 
shut up, by his moral sense, to but one moral con- 
viction. He must approve the right and condemn 



IS NOT THE LOVE OF IT. 



291 



the wrong. He cannot approve the wrong and con 
demn the right ; any more than he can perceive that 
two and two make five. The human conscience is 
a rigid and stationary faculty. Its voice may be 
stifled or drowned for a time ; but it can never be 
made to utter two discordant voices. It is for this 
reason, that the approbation of goodness is necessa- 
ry and universal. Wicked men and wicked angels 
must testify that benevolence is right, and malevo- 
lence is wrong ; though they hate the former, and 
love the latter. 

But it is not so with the human will. This is 
not a rigid and stationary faculty. It is capable 
of turning this way, and that way. It was created 
holy, and it turned from holiness to sin, in Adam's 
apostasy. And now, under the operation of the 
Divine Spirit, it turns back again, it converts from 
sin to holiness. The will of man is thus capable of 
two courses of action, while his conscience is capa- 
ble of only one judgment ; and hence he can see 
and approve the right, yet love and practise the 
wron£. If a man's conscience changed alono; with 
his heart and his will, so that when he began to 
love and practise sin, he at the same time began to 
approve of sin, the case would be different. If, 
when Adam apostatised from God, his conscience 
at that moment began to take sides with his sin, in- 
stead of condemning it, then, indeed, neither Ovid, 
nor Horace, nor Rousseau, nor any other one of 
Adam's posterity, would have been able to say : " I 



292 



THE APPKOBATION OF GOODNESS 



see tlie right and approve of it, while I follow the 
wrong." But it was not so. After apostasy, the 
conscience of Adam passed the same judgment upon 
sin that it did before. Adam heard its terrible 
voice speaking in concert with the voice of God, 
and hid himself. He never succeeded in brinsrins: 
his conscience over to the side of his heart and will, 
and neither has any one of his posterity. It is im- 
possible to do this. Satan himself, after millen- 
niums of sin, still finds that his conscience, that the 
accusing and condemning law written on the heart, 
is too strong for him to alter, too rigid for him to 
bend. The utmost that either he, or any creature, 
can do, is to drown its verdict for a time in other 
sounds, only to hear the thunder-tones again, wax- 
ing longer and louder like the trumpet of Sinai. 

Having thus briefly shown that the approbation 
of goodness is not the love of it, we proceed to 
draw some conclusions from the truth. 

1. In the first place, it follows from this subject, 
that the mere workings of conscience are no proof 
of holiness. When, after the commission of a 
wrong act, the soul of a man is filled with self- 
reproach, he must not take it for granted that this 
is the stirring of a better nature within him, and 
is indicative of some remains of original righteous- 
ness. This reaction of conscience against his diso- 
bedience of law is as necessary, and unavoidable, 
as the action of his eyelids under the blaze of noon, 
and is worthy neither of praise nor blame, so far 



IS NOT THE LOYE OF IT. 



293 



as he is concerned. It does not imply any love for 
holiness, or any hatred of sin. Nay, it may exist 
without any sorrow for sin, as in the instance of the 
hardened transgressor who writhes under its awful 
power, but never sheds a penitential tear, or sends 
up a sigh for mercy. The distinction between the 
human conscience, and the human heart, is as wide 
as between the human intellect, and the human 
heart. 1 We never think of confounding the func- 
tions and operations of the understanding with 
those of the heart. We know that an idea or a 
conception, is totally different from an emotion, or 
a feeling. How often do we remark, that a man 
may have an intellectual perception, without any 
correspondent experience or feeling in his heart. 
How continually does the preacher urge his hearers 
to bring their hearts into harmony with their under- 
standings, so that their intellectual orthodoxy n>.ay 
become their practical piety. 

Now, all this is true of the distinction betv^een 
the conscience and the heart. The conscience h an 
intellectual faculty, and by that better elder phi- 
losophy which comprehended all the powers of the 
soul under the two general divisions of understand- 
ing and will, would be placed in the domain of 
the understanding. Conscience is a light, as we so 
often call it. It is not a life / it is not a source of 
life. No man's heart and will can be renewed or 

1 Compare, on this distinc- and Essays, p. 284 sq. 
tion, the Authoe's Discourses 



294 THE APPROBATION OF GOODNESS 



changed by his conscience. Conscience is simply a 
law. Conscience is merely legislative ; it is never 
executive. It simply says to the heart and will: 
" Do thus, feel thus," but it gives no assistance, and 
jimparts no inclination to obey its own command. 

Those, therefore, commit a grave error both in 
philosophy and religion, who confound the con- 
science with the heart, and suppose that because 
there is in every man self-reproach and remorse 
after the commission of sin, therefore there is the 
germ of holiness within him. Holiness is love, 
the positive affection of the heart. It is a matter 
of the heart and the will. But this remorse is 
purely an affair of the conscience, and the heart 
has no connection with it. Nay, it appears in its 
most intense form, in those beings whose feelings 
emotions and determinations are in utmost opposi- 
tion to God and goodness. The purest remorse in 
the universe is to be found in those wretched beings 
whose emotional and active powers, whose heart 
and will, are in the most bitter hostility to truth 
and righteousness. How, then, can the mere, re- 
proaches and remorse of conscience be regarded as 
evidence of piety ? 

2. But, we may go a step further than this, 
though in the same general direction, and remark, 
in the second place, that elevated moral sentiments 
are no certain proof of piety toward God and man. 
These, too, like remorse of conscience, spring out 
of the intellectual structure, and may exist without 



IS NOT THE LOVE OF IT. 



295 



any affectionate love of God in the "heart. There 
is a species of nobleness and beauty in moral ex 
cellence that makes an involuntary and unavoidable 
impression. When the Christian martyr seals his 
devotion to God and truth with his blood ; when 
a meek and lowly disciple of Christ clothes his life 
of poverty, and self-denial, with a daily beauty 
greater than that of the lilies or of Solomon's 
array; when the poor widow with feeble and 
trembling steps comes rip to the treasury of the 
Lord, and casts in all her living; when any pure 
and spiritual act is performed out of solemn and 
holy love of God and man, it is impossible not to 
be filled with sentiments of admiration, and often- 
times with an enthusiastic glow of soul. We see 
this in the impression which the character of Christ 
universally makes. There are multitudes of men, 
to whom that wonderful sinless life shines aloft like 
a star. But they do not imitate it. They admire 
it, but they do not love it. 1 The spiritual purity 
and perfection of the Son of God rays out a beauty 
which really attracts their cultivated minds, and 
their refined taste ; but when He says to them . 
" Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I 
am meek and lowly of heart ; take up thy cross 
daily and follow me ; " they turn away sorrowful, 
like the rich young man in the Gospel, — sorrowful, 
because their sentiments like his are elevated, and 

1 The reader will recall Christ by Rousseau. 
Jjo celebrated panegyric upon 



296 THE APPEOBATIOJST OF GOODNESS 



they have a certain awe of eternal things, and 
know that religion is the highest concern ; and sor- 
rowful, because their hearts and wills are still 
earthly, there is no divine love in their souls, self 
is still their centre, and the sell-renunciation that 
is required of them is repulsive. Religion is sub- 
mission, — absolute submission to God, — and no 
amount of mere admiration of religion can be a 
substitute for it. 

As a thoughtful observer looks abroad over 
society, he sees a very interesting class who are 
not far from the kingdom of God ; who, neverthe- 
less, are not within that kingdom, and who, there- 
fore, if they remain where they are, are as certainly 
lost as if they were at an infinite distance from the 
kingdom. The homely proverb applies to them : 
" A miss is as good as a mile." They are those 
who suppose that elevated moral sentiments, an 
aesthetic pleasure in noble acts or noble truths, a 
glow and enthusiasm of the soul at the sight or 
the recital of examples of Christian virtue and 
Christian grace, a disgust at the gross and repul- 
sive forms and aspects of sin, — that such merely 
intellectual and aesthetic experiences as these are 
piety itself. All these may be in the soul, without 
any godly sorrow over sin, any cordial trust in 
Christ's blood, any self-abasement before God, any 
daily conflict with indwelling corruption, any daily 
cross-bearing and toil for Christ's dear sake. These 
latter, constitute the essence of the Christian 



IS JS T OT THE LOVE OF IT. 



297 



experience, and without them that whole range 
of elevated sentiments and amiable qualities, to 
which we have alluded, only ministers to the con- 
demuation instead of the salvation of the soul. 
For, the question of the text comes home with 
solemn force, to all such persons. " Thou that 
makest thy boast of the law, through breaking 
of the law, dishonorest thou Grod \ " If the beauty 
of virtue, and the grandeur of truth, and the sub- 
limity of invisible things, have been able to make 
such an impression upon your intellect, and your 
tastes, — upon that part of your constitution which is 
fixed and stationary, which responds organically to 
such objects, and which is not the seat of moral 
character, — then why is there not a corresponding 
influence and impression made by them upon your 
heart \ If you can admire and praise them in 
this style, why do you not love them ? Why is 
it, that when the character of Christ bows your 
intellect, it does not bend your will, and sway 
your affections ? Must there not be an inveterate 
opposition and resistance in the heart? in the 
heart which can refuse submission to such hio-h 

o 

claims, when so distinctly seen ? in the heart 
which can refuse to take the yoke, and learn of a 
Teacher who has already made such an impression 
upon the conscience and the understanding ? 

The human heart is, as the prophet affirms, des- 
perately wicked, desperately selfish. And perhaps 
its self-love is never more plainly seen, than in 



298 



THE APPROBATION OF GOODNESS 



sucli instances as those of that moral and culti- 
vated young man mentioned in the Gospel, and 
that class in modern society who correspond to 
him. Nowhere is the difference between the ap- 
probation of goodness, and the love of it, more 
apparent. In these instances the approbation is of 
a high order. It is refined and sublimated by cul- 
ture and taste. It is not stained by the tempta- 
tions of low life, and gross sin. If there ever could 
be a case, in which the intellectual approbation 
of goodness would develop and pass over into the 
affectionate and hearty love of it, we should expect 
to find it here. But it is not found. The young 
man goes away, — sorrowful indeed, — but he goes 
away from the Redeemer of the world, never to 
return. The amiable, the educated, the refined, 
pass on from year to year, and, so far as the 
evangelic sorrow, and the evangelic faith are con- 
cerned, like the dying Beaufort depart to judg- 
ment making no sign. We hear their praises of 
Christian men, and Christian graces, and Christian 
actions ; we enjoy the grand and swelling senti- 
ments with which, perhaps, they enrich the com- 
mon literature of the world; -but we never hear 
them cry : " God be merciful to me a sinner ; O 
Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the 
world, grant me thy peace ; Thou, O God, art the 
strength of my heart, and my portion forever." 

3. In the third place, it follows from this sub- 
ject, that in order to holiness in man there must 



IS NOT THE LOVE OF IT. 



299 



be a change in his heart and will. If our analysis 
is correct, no possible modification of either his con- 
science, or his intellect, would produce holiness. 
Holiness is an affection of the heart, and an inclina- 
tion of the will. It is the love and practice of 
goodness, and not the mere approbation and admi- 
ration of it. Now, suppose that the conscience 
should be stimulated to the utmost, and remorse 
should be produced until it filled the soul to over- 
flowing, would there be in this any of that gentle 
and blessed affection for God and goodness, that 
heartfelt love of them, which is the essence of reli- 
gion ? Or, suppose that the intellect merely were 
impressed by the truth, and very clear perceptions 
of the Christian system and of the character and 
claims of its Author were imparted, would the 
result be any different? If the heart and will 
were unaffected ; if the influences and impressions 
were limited merely to the conscience and the 
understanding; would not the seat of the diffi. 
culty still be untouched ? The command is not 
" Give me thy conscience," but, " Give me thy 
heart." 

Hence, that regeneration of which our Lord 
speaks in his discourse with Nicodemus is not a 
radical change of the conscience, but of the will and 
affections. We have already seen that the con- 
science cannot undergo a radical change. It can 
never be made to approve what it once condemned, 
and to condemn what it once approved. It is the 



300 THE APPROBATION OF GOODNESS 



stationary legislative faculty, and is, of necessity, 
always upon the side of law and of Grod. Hence, 
the apostle Paul sought to commend the truth 
which he preached, to every man's conscience, know- 
ing that every man's conscience was with him. The 
conscience, therefore, does not need to be converted, 
that is to say, made opposite to what it is. It is 
indeed greatly stimulated, and rendered vastly 
more energetic, by the regeneration of the heart ; 
but this is not radically to alter it. This is to 
develop and educate the conscience ; and when 
holiness is implanted in the will and affections, by 
the grace of the Spirit, we find that both the 
conscience and understanding are wonderfully 
unfolded and strengthened. But they undergo 
no revolution or conversion. The judgments of 
the conscience are the same after regeneration, 
that they were before; only more positive and 
emphatic. The convictions of the understand- 
ing continue, as before, to be upon the side of 
truth ; only they are more clear and powerful. 

The radical change, therefore, must be wrought 
in the heart and will. These are capable of revo- 
lutions and radical changes. They can apostatise 
in Adam, and be regenerated in Christ. They are 
not immovably fixed and settled, by their constitu- 
tional structure, in only one way. They have once 
turned from holiness to sin ; and now they must 
be turned back again from sin to holiness. They 
must become exactly contrary to what they now 



IS NOT THE LOVE OF IT. 



301 



are. The heart must love what it now hates, and 
must hate what it now loves. The will must incline 
to what it now disinclines, and disincline to what it 
now inclines. But this is a radical change, a total 
change, an entire revolution. If any man be in 
Christ Jesus, he is a new creature, in his will 
and affections, in his inclination and disposition. 
While, therefore, the conscience must continue to 
give the same old everlasting testimony as before, 
and never reverse its judgments in the least, the af- 
fections and will, the pliant, elastic, plastic part of 
man, the seat of vitality, of emotion, the seat of char- 
acter, the fountain out of which proceed the evil 
thoughts or the good thoughts, — this executive, 
emotive, responsible part of man, must be reversed, 
converted, radically changed into its own contrary. 

So long, therefore, as this change remains to be 
effected in an individual, there is and can be no 
Iwliness within him, — none of that holiness without 
which no man can see the Lord. There may be 
within him a very active and reproaching con- 
science ; there may be intellectual orthodoxy and 
correctness in religious convictions ; he may cherish 
elevated moral sentiments, and many attractive 
qualities springing out of a cultivated taste and a 
jealous self-respect may appear in his character; 
but unless he loves God and man out of a pure 
heart fervently, and unless his will is entirely and 
sweetly submissive to the Divine will, so that he 
can say : " Father not my will, but thine be done," 

14 



302 



THE APPKOBATXON OF GOODNESS 



he is still a natural man. He is still destitute of 
the spiritual mind, and to him it must be said as 
it was to Mcodemus : u Except a man be bom 
again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." The 
most important side of his being is still alienated 
from God. The heart with its affections; the will 
with its immense energies, — the entire active and 
emotive portions of his nature, — are still earthly, 
unsubmissive, selfish, and sinful. 

4. In the fourth, and last place, we see from this 
subject the necessity of the operation of the Holy 
Spirit, in order to holiness in man. 

There is no part of man's complex being which 
\ is less under his own control, than his own will, 
I and his own affections. This he discovers, as soon 
as he attempts to convert them ; as soon as he tries 
to produce a radical change in them. Let a man 
whose will, from centre to circumference, is set upon 
self and the world, attempt to reverse it, and set it 
with the same strength and energy upon God and 
heaven, and he will know that his will is too strong 
for him, and that he cannot overcome himself. Let 
a man whose affections cleave like those of Dives 
to earthly good, and find their sole enjoyment in 
earthly pleasures, attempt to change them into their 
own contraries, so that they shall cleave to God, 
and take a real delight in heavenly things, — let a 
carnal man try to revolutionize himself into a spir- 
itual man, — and he will discover that the affections 
and feelings of his heart are beyond his control. 



IS NOT THE LOVE OF IT. 



303 



And the reason of this is plain. The affections 
and will of a man show what he loves, and what 
he is inclined to. A sinful" man cannot, therefore, 
overcome his sinful love and inclination, because 
he cannot make a beginning. The instant he 
attempts to love God, he finds his love of him- 
self in the way. This new love for a new object, 
w 7 hich he proposes to originate within himself, 
is prevented by an old love, which already has 
possession. This new inclination to heaven and 
Divine things is precluded by an old inclination, 
very strong and very set, to earth and earthly things. 
There is therefore no starting-point, in this affair of 
self-conversion. He proposes, and he tries, to think 
a holy thought, but there is a sinful thought already 
in the mind. He attempts to start out a Christian 
grace, — say the grace of humility, — but the feeling 
of pride already stands in the way, and, what is 
more, remains in the way. He tries to generate 
that supreme love of God, of which he has heard 
so much, but the supreme love of himself is ahead 
of him, and occupies the whole ground. In short, 
he is baffled at every point in this attempt radically 
to change his own heart and will, because at every 
point this heart and will are already committed 
and determined. Go down as low as he pleases, 
he finds sin, — love of sin, and inclination to sin. 
He never reaches a point where these cease ; and 
therefore never reaches a point where he can begin 
a new love, and a new inclination. The late Mr. 



304 



THE APPROBATION OF GOODNESS 



"Webster was once enga-ored in a law case, in which 
he had to meet, upon the opposing side, the subtle 
and strong understanding of Jeremiah Mason. In 
one of his conferences with his associate counsel, a 
difficult point to be managed came to view. After 
some discussion, without satisfactory results, respect- 
ing the best method of handling the difficulty, one 
of his associates suggested that the point might 
after all, escape the notice of the opposing counsel. 
To this, Mr. Webster replied : " Not so ; go down 
as deep as you will, you will find Jeremiah Mason 
below you." Precisely so in the case of which we 
are speaking. Go down as low as you please into 
your heart and will, you will find your self below 
you ; you will find sin not only lying at the door, 
but lying in the way. If you move in the line of 
your feelings and affections, you will find earthly 
feelings and affections ever below you. If you 
move in the line of your choice and inclination, you 
will find a sinful choice and inclination ever below 
you. In chasing your sin through the avenues of 
your fallen and corrupt soul, you are chasing your 
horizon ; in trying to get clear of it by your own 
isolated and independent strength, you are attempt- 
ing (to use the illustration of Goethe, who however 
employed it for a false purpose) to junrp off your 
own shadow. 

This, then, is the reason why the heart and will 
of a sinful man are so entirely beyond his own 
control. They are preoccujned and predetermined, 



IS NOT THE LOVE OF IT. 



305 



and therefore he cannot make a beginning in the 
direction of holiness. If he attempts to put forth 
a holy determination, he finds a sinful one already 
made and making, — and this determination is his 
determination, unforced, responsible and guilty. 
If he tries to start out a holy emotion, he finds a 
sinful emotion already beating and rankling, — and 
this emotion is his emotion, unforced, responsible, 
and guilty. There is no physical necessity resting 
upon him. Nothing but this love of sin and incli- 
nation to self stands in the way of a supreme love 
of God and holiness ; but it stands in the way. 
Nothing but the sinful affection of the heart pre- 
vents a man from exercising a holy affection ; but 
it prevents him effectually. An evil tree cannot 
bring forth good fruit; a sinful love and inclina- 
tion cannot convert itself into a holy love and in- 
clination ; Satan cannot cast out Satan. 

There is need therefore of a Divine operation to 
renew, to radically change, the heart and will. If 
they cannot renew themselves, they must be re- 
newed ; and there is no power that can reach them 
but that mysterious energy of the Holy Spirit 
which like the wind bloweth where it listeth, and 
we hear the sound thereof, but cannot tell whence 
it comet h or whither it goeth. The condition of 
the human heart is utterly hopeless, were it not 
for the promised influences of the Holy Ghost to 
regenerate it. 

There are many reflections suggested by this 



306 



THE APPROBATION OF GOODNESS 



subject ; for it has a wide reach, and would carry 
ns over vast theological spaces, should we attempt 
to exhaust it. We close with the single remark, 
that it should be man's first and great aim to 
obtain the new heart. Let him seek this first of all, 
and all things else will be added unto him. It 
matters not how active your conscience may be, 
how clear and accurate your intellectual convic- 
tions of truth may be, how elevated may be your 
moral sentiments and your admiration of virtue, 
if you are destitute of an evangelical experience. 
Of what value will all these be in the day of judg- 
ment, if you have never sorrowed for sin, never 
appropriated the atonement for sin, and never been 
inwardly sanctified \ Our Lord says to every man : 
"Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; 
or else make the tree corrupt, and its fruit corrupt." 
The tree itself must be made good. The heart and 
will themselves must be renewed. These are the 
root and stock into which everything else is graft- 
ed; and so long as they remain in their apostate 
natural condition, the man is sinful and lost, do 
what else he may. It is indeed true, that such a 
change as this is beyond your power to accom- 
plish. With man it is impossible ; but with Grod 
it is a possibility^, and a reality. It has actually 
been wrought in thousands of wills, as stubborn as 
yours; in millions of hearts, as worldly and selfish 
as yours. We commend you, therefore, to the 
Person and Work of the Holy Spirit. We remind 



IS NOT THE LOVE OF IT. 



307 



you, that He is able to renovate and sweetly incline 
the obstinate will, to soften and spiritualize the 
flinty heart. He saith : " I will put a new spirit 
within you ; and I will take the stony heart out of 
your flesh, and will give you an heart of flesh ; that 
ye may walk in ray statutes, and keep mine ordi- 
nances, and do them ; and ye shall be my people, 
and I will be your God." Do not listen to these 
declarations and promises of God supinely ; but 
arise and earnestly plead them. Take words upon 
your lips, and go before God. Say unto Him : "I 
am the clay, be thou the potter. Behold thou de- 
sirest truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden 
parts thou shalt make me to know wisdom. I 
will run in the way of thy commandments, when 
thou shalt enlarge my heart. Create within me a 
clean heart, O God, and renew within me a right 
spirit." Seek for the new heart. Ask for the new 
heart. Knock for the new heart. " For, if ye, 
being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your 
children, how much more shall your heavenly 
Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him." 
And in giving the Holy Spirit, He gives the new 
heart, with all that is included in it, and all that 
issues from it. 



THE USB OF FEAR, IN RELIGION. 



Proverbs ix. 10. — "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." 
Luke xii. 4, 5. — " And I say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid of them 
that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I 
will forewarn you whom ye shall fear : Fear him, which after he hath 
killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him." 



The place which the feeling of fear ought to 
hold in the religious experience of mankind is 
variously assigned. Theories of religion are con- 
tinually passing from one extreme to another, 
according as they magnify or disparage this emo- 
tion. Some theological 'schools are distinguished 
for thei'r severity, and others for their sentiment- 
alism. Some doctrinal systems fail to grasp the 
mercy of God with as much vigor and energy as 
they do the Divine justice, while others melt down 
everything that is scriptural and self-consistent, and 
flow along vaguely in an inundation of unprincipled 
emotions and sensibilities. 

The same fact meets us in the experience of the 
individual. We either fear too much, or too little. 
Having obtained glimpses of the Divine compas- 
sion, how prone is the human heart to become indo- 
lent and self-indulgent, and to relax something of 



THE USE OF PEAK IN RELIGION. 



309 



that earnest effort with which it had begun to pluck 
out the offending right eye. Or, having felt the 
power of the Divine anger; having obtained clear 
conceptions of the intense aversion of God towards 
moral evil; even the child of God sometimes 
lives under a cloud, because he does not dare to 
make a right use of this needed aud salutary im- 
pression, and pass back to that confiding trust in 
the Divine pity which is his privilege and his 
birth-right, as one who has been sprinkled with 
atoning blood. 

It is plain, from the texts of Scripture placed at 
the head of this discourse, that the feeling and 
principle of fear is a legitimate one. 1 In these words 
of God himself, we are taught that it is the font 
and origin of true wisdom, and are commanded 
to be inspired by it. The Old Testament enjoins 



1 The moral and healthful in- 
fluence of fear is implied in the 
celebrated passage in Aristotle's 
Poetics, whatever be the inter- 
pretation. He speaks of a cleans- 
ing (tiadapmv) of the mind, by 
means of the emotions of pity 
and terror (oo^oc) awakened by 
tragic poetry. Most certainly, 
there is no portion of Classical 



literature so purifying as the 
Greek Drama. And yet, the 
pleasurable emotions are rarely 
awakened by it. Righteousness 
and justice determine the move- 
ment of the plot, and conduct 
to the catastrophe; aud the per- 
sons and forms that move across 
the stage are, not Yenus and the 
G-races but, 



" ghostly Shapes 
To meet at noontide ; Death the Skeleton 
And Time the Shadow.'" 

All literature that tends np- purposes of poetry the fear it 

ward contains the tragic element ; awakens. Lucretius and Voltaire 

and ail literature that tends would disprove the existence of 

downward rejects it. ^E-chylus such a solemu world, and they 

and Dante assume a wond of make no use of such an emo- 

retribution, and employ for the tion. 

14* 



310 



THE USE OE FEAE IN RELIG-KXN". 



it, and the New Testament repeats and emphasizes 
the injunction ; so that the total and united testi- 
mony of Revelation forbids a religion that is desti- 
tute of fear. 

The New Dispensation is sometimes set in oppo- 
sition to the Old, and Christ is represented as 
teaching a less rigid morality than that of Moses 
and the prophets. But the mildness of Christ is 
not seen, certainly, in the ethical and preceptive 
part of His religion. The Sermon on the Mount 
is a more searching code of morals than the ten 
commandments. It cuts into human depravity 
with a more keen and terrible edge, than does the 
law proclaimed amidst thunderings and light- 
nings. Let us see if it does not. The Mosaic 
statute simply says to man : " Thou shalt not kill." 
But the re-enactment of this statute, by incar- 
nate Deity, is accompanied with an explanation 
and an emphasis that precludes all misapprehen- 
sion and narrow construction of the original law, 
and renders it a two-edged sword that pierces to 
the dividing asunder of soul and spirit. AYhen 
the Hebrew legislator says to me : " Thou shalt 
not kill," it is possible for me, with my propensity 
to look upon the outward appearance, and to re- 
gard the external act alone, to deem myself inno- 
cent if I have never actually murdered a fellow- 
being. But when the Lord of glory tells me that 
"whosoever is angry with his brother" is in dan- 
ger of the judgment, my mouth is stopped, and it 



THE USE OF FEAR IN RELIGION. 



311 



is impossible for me to cherish a conviction of per- 
sonal innocency, in respect to the sixth command- 
ment. And the same is true of the seventh com 
mandment, and the eighth commandment, and of 
all the statutes in the decalogue. He who reads, 
and ponders, the whole Sermon on the Mount, is 
painfully conscious that Christ has put a meaning 
into the Mosaic law that renders it a far more effec- 
tive instrument of mental torture, for the guilty, 
than it is as it stands in the Old Testament, The 
lightnings are concentrated. The bolts are hurled 
with a yet more sure and deadly aim. The new 
meaning is a perfectly legitimate and logical deduc- 
tion, and in this sense there is no difference be- 
tween the Decalogue and the Sermon, — between the 
ethics of the Old and the ethics of the New Testa- 
ment. But, so much more spiritual is the applica- 
tion, and so much more searching is the reach of 
the statute, in the last of the two forms of its state- 
ment, that it looks almost like a new proclamation 
of law. 

Our Lord did not intend, or pretend, to teach 
a milder ethics, or an easier virtue, on the Mount 
of Beatitudes, than that which He had taught 
fifteen centuries before on Mt. Sinai. He indeed 
pronounces a blessing ; and so did Moses, His ser- 
vant, before Him. But in each instance, it is a 
blessing upon condition of obedience ; which, in 
both instances, involves a curse upon disobedience. 
He who is meek shall be blest ; but he who is n 4 ot 



312 



THE USE OF FEAE IJS T KELIGICXN". 



shall be condemned. He who is pure in heart, ho 
who is poor in spirit, he who mourns over personal 
u n worth in ess, he who hungers and thirsts after 
a righteousness of which he is destitute, he who is 
merciful, he who is the peace-maker, he who en- 
dures persecution patiently, and he who loves his 
enemies, — he who is and does all this in a perfect 
manner, without a single slip or failure, is indeed 
blessed with the beatitude of God. But where 
is the man ? What single individual in all the 
ages, and in all the generations since Adam, is 
entitled to the great blessing of these beatitudes, 
and not deserving of the dreadful curse which they 
involve ? In applying such a high, ethereal test to 
human character, the Founder of Christianity is the 
severest and sternest preacher of law that has ever 
trod upon the planet. And he who stops with the 
merely ethical and preceptive part of Christianity, 
and rejects its forgiveness through atoning blood, 
and its regeneration by an indwelling Spirit, — he 
who does not unite the fifth chapter of Matthew, 
with the fifth chapter of Romans, — converts the 
Lamb of God into the Lion of the tribe of Judah. 
He makes use of everything in the Christian sys- 
tem that condemns man to everlasting destruction, 
but throws away the very and the only part of it 
tli at takes off the burden and the curse. 

It is not, then, a correct idea of Christ that we 
have, when we look upon Him as unmixed compla- 
cency and unbalanced compassion. In all aspects, 



THE USE OE FEAK IN RELIGION. 



813 



He was a complex personage. He was God, and 
He was roan. As God, He could pronounce a 
blessing; and He could pronounce a curse, as none 
but God can, or dare. As man, He was perfect ; 
and into His perfection of feeling and of character 
there entered those elements that fill a o;ood being 
with peace, and an evil one with woe. The Son of 
God exhibits goodness and severity mingled and 
blended in perfect and majestic harmony ; and that 
man lacks sympathy with Jesus Christ who cannot, 
while feeling the purest and most unselfish indig- 
nation towards the sinner's sin, at the same time 
give up his own individual life, if need be, for the 
sinner's soul. The two feelings are not only com- 
patible in the same person, but necessarily belong 
to a perfect being. Our Lord breathed out a 
prayer for His murderers so fervent, and so full of 
pathos, that it will continue to soften and melt the 
flinty human heart, to the end of time ; and He also 
poured out a denunciation of woes upon the Phari- 
sees (Matt, xxiii.), every syllable of which is dense 
enouo-h with the wrath of God, to sink the deserv- 
ing objects of it "plumb down, ten thousand fath- 
oms deep, to bottomless perdition in adamantine 
chains and penal fire." The utterances, " Father 
forgive them, for they know net what they do : Ye 
serpents, ye generation of vipers ! how can ye es- 
cape the damnation of hell i both fell from the 
same pure and gracious lips. ' 

It is not surprising, therefore, that our Lord often 



314 



THE USE OF FEAR IN RELIGION. 



appeals to the principle of fear. He makes use of 
it in all its various forms, — from that servile terror 
which is produced by the truth when the soul is 
just waked up from its drowze in sin, to that filial 
fear which Solomon affirms to be the beginning of 
wisdom. 

The subject thus brought before our minds, by 
the inspired Word, has a wide application to all 
ages and conditions of human life, and all varieties 
of human character. We desire to direct attention 
to the use and value of religious fear in the opening 
periods of human life. There are some special rea- 
sons why youth and early manhood should come 
under the influence of this powerful feeling. "I 
write unto you young men," — says St. John, — 44 be- 
cause ye are strong.^ We propose to urge upon the 
young, the duty of cultivating the fear of God's dis- 
pleasure, because they are able to endure the emo- 
tion ; because youth is the springtide and prime of 
human life, and capable of carrying burdens, and 
standing up under influences and impressions, that 
might crush a feebler period, or a more exhausted 
stas^e of the human soul. 

I. In the first place, the emotion of fear ought to 
enter into the consciousness of the young, because 
youth is naturally light-hearted. u Childhood and 
youth," saith the Preacher, " are vanity." .The 
opening period in human life is the happiest part 
of it, if we have respect merely to the condition and 
circumstances in which the human being is placed. 



THE USE OF FEAR IN RELIGION. 



315 



He is free from all public cares, and responsibilities. 
He is encircled within the strong arms of parents, 
and protectors. Even if he tries, he cannot feel the 
pressure of those toils and anxieties which will 
come of themselves, when he has passed the line 
that separates youth from manhood. When he 
hears his elders discourse of the weight, and the 
weariness, of this working-day world, it is with 
incredulity and surprise. The world is bright be- 
fore his eye, and he wonders that it should ever 
wear any other aspect. He cannot understand how 
the freshness, and vividness, and pomp of human 
life, should shift into its soberer and sterner forms ; 
and he will not, until the 

" Shades of the prison-house begin to close 
Upon the growing Boy." 1 

Now there is something, in this happy attitude 
of things, to fill the heart of youth with gayety and 
abandonment. His pulses beat strong and high. 
The currents of his soul flow like the mountain 
river. His mood is buoyant and jubilant, and he 
flings himself with zest, and a sense of vitality, into 
the joy and exhilaration all around him. But such 
a mood as this, unbalanced and untempered by a 
loftier one, is hazardous to the eternal interests of 
the soul. Perpetuate this gay festal abandonment 
of the mind ; let the human being, through the 
whole of his earthly course, be filled with the sole 

1 Words woeth; Intimations of Immortality. 



316 THE USE OF FEAR IN RELIGION. 



single consciousness that this is the beautiful world : 
and will he, can he, live as a stranger and a pilgrim 
in it? Perpetuate that vigorous pulse, and that 
youthful blood which " runs tickling up and clown 
the veins ; " drive off, and preclude, all that care and 
responsibility which renders human life so earnest ; 
and will the young immortal go through it, with 
that sacred fear and trembling with which he is 
commanded to work out his salvation % 

Yet, this buoyancy and light-heartedness are le- 
gitimate feelings. They spring up, like wild-flowers, 
from the very nature of man. God intends that 
prismatic hues and auroral lights shall flood our 
morning sky. He must be filled with a sour and 
rancid misanthropy, who cannot bless the Creator 
that there is one part of man's sinful and cursed life 
which reminds of the time, and the state, when 
there was no sin and no curse. There is, then, to 
be no extermination of this legitimate experience. 
But there is to be its moderation and its regulation. 

And this we get, by the introduction of the feel- 
ing and the principle of religious fear. The youth 
ought to seek an impression from things unseen 
and eternal. God, and His august attributes ; 
Christ, and His awful Passion ; heaven, with its 
sacred scenes and joys ; hell, with its just woe and 
wail, — all these should come in, to modify, and 
temper, the jubilance that without them becomes 
the riot of the soul. For this, we apprehend, is the 
meaning of our Lord, when He says, " I will fore- 



THE USE OF FEAR IN RELIGION. 



317 



warn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which 
after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell ; 
yea, I say unto you, Fear him." It is not so much 
any particular species of fear that we are shut up 
to, by these words, as it is the general habit and 
feeling. The fear of hell is indeed specified, — and 
this proves that such a fear is rational and proper 
in its own place, — but our Lord would not have us 
stop with this single and isolated form of the feel- 
ing. He recommends a solemn temper. He com- 
mands a being who stands continually upon the 
brink of eternity and immensity, to be aware of his 
position. He would have the great shadow of eter- 
nity thrown in upon time. He desires that every 
man should realize, in those very moments when 
the sun shines the brightest and the earth looks the 
fairest, that there is another world than this, for 
which man is not naturally prepared, and for which 
he must make a preparation. And what He enjoins 
upon mankind at large, He specially enjoins upon 
youth. They need to be sobered more than others. 
The ordinary cares of this life, which do so much 
towards moderating our desires and aspirations, 
have not yet pressed upon the ardent and expec- 
tant soul, and therefore it needs, more than others, 
to fear and to " stand in awe." 

II. Secondly, youth is elastic, and readily recovers 
from undue depression. The skeptical Lucretius 
tells us that the divinities are the creatures of man's 
fears, and would make us believe that all religion 



318 



THE USE OF FEAK FN KELIGION. 



lias its ground in fright. 1 And do we not hear this 
theory repeated by the modern unbeliever? What 
means this appeal to a universal, and an unprinci- 
pled good-nature in the Supreme Being, and this 
rejection of everything in Christianity that awakens 
misgivings and forebodings within the sinful human 
soul? Why this opposition to the doctrine of an 
absolute, and therefore endless punishment, unless 
it be that it awakens a deep and permanent dread 
in the heart of guilty man \ 

Now, we are not of that number who believe 
that thoughtless and lethargic man has been greatly 
damaged by his moral fears. It is the lack of a 
bold and distinct impression from the solemn ob- 
jects of another world, and the utter absence of 
fear, that is ruining man from generation to gener- 
ation. If we were at liberty, and had the power, 
to induce into the thousands and millions of our 
race who are running the rounds of sin and vice, 
some one particular emotion that should be medici- 
nal and salutary to the soul, we would select that 
very one which our Lord had in view when He said : 
" I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear : Fear him, 
w T hich after he hath killed hath power to cast into 
ht-11 ; yea, I say unto you, Fear him." If we w T ere 
at liberty, and had the power, we would instan- 
taneously stop these human souls that are crowding 
our avenues, intent only upon pleasure and earth, 

1 Lucretius : De Rerum Natura, III. 989 sq. ; V. 1160 sq. 



THE USE OF FEAB IN RELIGION. 



319 



and would fill them with the emotions of the day 
of doom ; we would deluge them with the fear of 
God, that they might flee from their sins and the 
wrath to come. 

But while we say this, we also concede that it is 
possible for the human soul to be injured, by the 
undue exercise of this emotion. The bruised reed 
may be broken, and the smoking flax may be quench- 
ed ; and hence it is the very function and office- 
work of the Blessed Comforter, to prevent this. 
God's own children sometimes pass through a 
horror of great darkness, like that which enveloped 
Abraham; and the unregenerate mind is sometimes 
so overborne by its fears of death, judgment, and 
eternity, that the entire experience becomes for a 
time morbid and confused. Yet, even in this in- 
stance, the excess is better than the lack. We had 
better travel this road to heaven, than none at all. 
It is better to enter into the kingdom of God with 
one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell- 
fire. When the saints from the heavenly heights 
look back upon their severe religious experience 
here on earth,— upon their footprints stained with 
their own blood, — they count it a small matter 
that they entered into eternal joy through much 
tribulation. And if we could but for one instant 
take their position, we should form their estimate ; 
we should not shrink, if God so pleased, from pass- 
ing through that martyrdom and crucifixion which 
has been undergone by so many of those gentle 



320 



THE USE OF FEAR IN RELIGION. 



spirits, broken spirits, holy spirits, upon whom the 
burden of mystery once lay like night, and the far 
heavier burden of guilt lay like hell. 

There is less danger, however, that the feeling 
and principle of fear should exert an excessive 
influence upon youth. There is an elasticity, in the 
earlier periods of human life, that prevents long- 
continued depression. How rare it is to see a 
young person smitten with insanity. It is not 
until the pressure of anxiety has been long contin- 
ued, and the impulsive spring of the soul has been 
destroyed, that reason is dethroned. The morning 
of our life may, therefore, be subjected to a subdu- 
ing and repressing influence, with very great safety. 
It is well to bear the yoke in youth. The awe 
produced by a vivid impression from the eternal 
world may enter into the exuberant and gladsome 
experience of the young, with very little danger of 
actually extinguishing it, and rendering life perma- 
nently gloomy and unhappy. 

III. Thirdly, youth is exposed to sudden tempt a 
Hons, and surprisals into sin. The general traits 
that have been mentioned as belonging to the early 
period in human life render it peculiarly liable to 
solicitations. The whole being of a healthful hila- 
rious youth, who feels life in every limb,. thrills to 
temptation, like the lyre to the plectrum. Body 
and soul are alive to all the enticements of the 
world of sense ; and in certain critical moments, the 
entire sensorium, upon the approach of bold and 



THE USE OF FEAR FN" RELIGION. 



321 



powerful excitements, flutters and trembles like an 
electrometer in a thunder-storm. All passionate 
poetry breathes of youth and spring. Most of the 
catastrophes of the novel and the drama turn upon 
the violent action of some temptation, upon the 
highly excitable nature of youth. All literature 
testifies to the hazards that attend the morning 
of our existence ; and daily experience and obser- 
vation, certainly, corroborate the testimony. It 
becomes necessary, therefore, to guard the human 
soul against these liabilities which attend it in its 
forming period. And, next to a deep and all-absorb- 
ing love of God, there is nothing so well adapted 
to protect against sudden surprisals, as a profound 
and definite fear of God. 

It is a great mistake, to suppose that apostate 
and corrupt beings like ourselves can pass through 
all the temptations of this life unscathed, while 
looking solely at the pleasant aspects of the Divine 
Being, and the winning; forms of religious truth. 
We are not yet seraphs; and we cannot always 
trust to our affectionateness, to carry us through a 
violent attack of temptation. There are moments 
in the experience of the Christian himself, when he 
is compelled to call in the fear of God to his aid, 
and to steady his infirm and wavering virtue by 
the recollection that " the wages of sin is death." 
" By the fear of the Lord, men," — and Christian men 
too, — " depart from evil." It will not always be so. 
When that which is perfect is come, perfect love 

21 



322 



THE USE OF FEAE EN" RELIGION. 



shall cast out fear; but, until tbe disciple of 
Christ reaches heaven, his religious experience must 
be a somewhat complex one. A reasonable and 
well-defined apprehensiveness must mix with his 
arfectionateness, and deter him from transgression, 
in those severe passages in his history when love 
is languid and fails to draw him. Says an old 
English divine: "The fear of God's judgments, or 
of the threatenings of God, is of much efficiency, 
when some present temptation presseth upon us. 
When conscience and the affections are divided ; 
when conscience doth withdraw a man from sin, 
and when his carnal affections draw him forth to 
it ; then should the fear of God come in. It is a 
holy design for a Christian, to counterbalance the 
pleasures of sin with the terrors of it, and thus to 
cure the poison of the viper by the flesh of the 
viper. Thus that admirable saint and martyr, 
Bishop Hooper, w 7 hen he came to die, one en- 
deavored to dehort him from death by this: O sir, 
consider that life is sweet and death is bitter; 
presently he rej^liecl, Life to come is more sweet, 
and death to come is more bitter, and so went to 
the stake and patiently endured the fire. Thus, 
as a Christian may sometimes outweigh the pleas- 
ures of sin by the consideration of the reward of 
God, so, sometimes, he may quench the pleasures 
of sin by the consideration of the terrors of God." 1 



1 Bates : Discourse of the Fear of God. 



TILE USE OF FEAR IN RELIGION. 



323 



But much more is all this true, in the instance 
of the hot-blooded youth. How shall he resist 
temptation, unless he has some fear of God before 
his eyes ? There are moments in the experience of 
the young, when all power of resistance seems to 
be taken away, by the very witchery and blandish- 
ment of the object. He has no heart, and no nerve, 
to resist the beautiful siren. And it is precisely in 
these emergencies in his experience, — in these mo- 
ments when this world comes up before him clothed 
in pomp and gold, and the other world is so en- 
tirely lost sight of, that it throws in upon him 
none of its solemn shadows and warnings, — it is 
precisely now, when he is just upon the point of 
yielding to the mighty yet fascinating pressure, 
that he needs to feel an impression, bold and start- 
ling, from the wrath of God. Nothing but the 
most active remedies will have any effect, in this 
tumult and uproar of the soul. When the whole 
system is at fever-heat, and the voice of reason and 
conscience is drowned in the clamors of sense and 
earth, nothing can startle and stop but the trumpet 
of Sinai. 1 

It is in these severe experiences, which are more 



1 "Praise be to Thee, glory to 
Thee, O Fountain of mercies: I 
was becoming more miserable and 
Thou becoming nearer, Thy right 
hand was continually ready to 
pluck me out of the mire, and to 
wash me thoroughly, and I knew 
it not ; nor did anything call me 



back from a yet deeper gulf of 
carnal pleasures, but the fear of 
death, and of Thy judgment to 
come; which, amid all my chan- 
ges, never departed from my 
breast." Atjgustine: Confes- 
sions, vi. 16., (Shedd's Ed., p*. 
142.) 



324: 



THE USE OF EEAR m BELIGION. 



common to youth than they are to manhood, that 
we see the great value of the feeling and principle 
of fear. It is, comparatively, in vain for a youth 
under the influence of strong temptations, — and 
particularly when the surprise is sprung upon him, 
— to ply himself with arguments drawn from the 
beauty of virtue, and the excellence of piety. They 
are too ethereal for him, in his present mood. Such 
arguments are for a calmer moment, and a more dis- 
passionate hour. His blood is now boiling, and 
those higher motives which would influence the 
saint, and would have some influence with him, if 
he were not in this critical condition, have little 
power to deter him from sin. Let him therefore 
pass by the love of God, and betake himself to the 
anger of God, for safety. Let him say to himself, 
in this moment when the forces of Satan, in alli- 
ance with the propensities of his own nature, are 
making an onset, — when all other considerations are 
being swept away in the rush and whirlwind of 
his passions, — let him coolly bethink himself and 
say : u If I do this abominable thing which the soul 
of God hates, then God, the Holy and Immaculate, 
will burn my spotted soul in His pure eternal 
flame." For, there is great power, in what the Scrip- 
tures term " the terror of the Lord," to destroy the 

I edge of temptation. " A wise man feareth and de- 
parteth from evil." Fear kills out the delight in sin. 

I Damocles cannot eat the banquet with any pleas- 
ure, so long as the naked sword hangs by a single 



THE USE OF FEAR IN RELIGION. 



325 



hair over his head. No one can find much enjoy- 
ment in transgression, if his conscience is feeling the 
action of God's holiness within it. And well would 
it be, if, in every instance in which a youth is 
tempted to fling himself into the current of sin that 
is flowing all around him, his moral sense might at 
that very moment be filled with some of that ter- 
ror, and some of that horror, which breaks upon the 
damned in eternity. Well would it be, if the youth 
in the moment of violent temptation could lay 
upon the emotion or the lust that entices him, a 
distinct and red coal of hell-fire. 1 No injury would 
result from the most terrible fear of God, provided 
it could always fall upon the human soul in those 
moments of strong temptation, and of surprisals, 
when all other motives fail to influence, and the hu- 
man will is carried headlong by the human passions. 
There may be a fear and a terror that does harm, but 
man need be under no concern lest he experience 
too much of this feeling, in his hours of weakness 
and irresolution, in his youthful days of temptation 
and of dalliance. Let him rather bless God that 
there is such an intense light, and such a pure fire, 
in the Divine Essence, and seek to have his whole 
vitiated and poisoned nature penetrated and puri- 

1 " Si te luxuria tentat, objice pone tibi horribiles poenas ge- 

tibi memoriam mortis tuae, pro- hennae. Memoria ardoris gehen- 

pone tibi futurum judicium, reduc nae extinguat in te ardorem. lux- 

ai memoriam futura tormenta, uriae." 

propone tibi aeterna supplicia ; et Bernard: De Modo Bene Vi- 

etiam propone ante oculos tuos vendi. Sermo lxvii. 
perpetuosignes infernorum; pro- 
15 



326 



THE USE OE FEAR IN" RELIGION'. 



fied by it. Have you never looked with a steadfast 
gaze into a grate of burning anthracite, and noticed 
the quiet intense glow of the heat, and how silently 
the fire throbs and pulsates through the fuel, burn- 
ing up everything that is inflammable, and making 
the wdiole mass as pure, and clean, and clear, as 
the element of fire itself? Such is the effect of 
a contact of God's wrath with man's sin ; of the 
penetration of man's corruption by the wrath of 
the Lord. 

IV. In the fourth place, the feeling and principle 
of fear ought to enter into the experience of both 
youth and manhood, because it relieves from all 
other fear. He who stands in awe of God can look 
down, from a very great height, upon all other per- 
turbation. When we have seen Him from whose 
sight the heavens and the earth flee away, there is 
nothing, in either the heavens or the earth, that can 
produce a single ripple upon the surface of our souls. 
This is true, even of the uuregenerate mind. The fear 
in this instance is a servile one, — it is not filial and 
affectionate, — and yet it serves to protect the sub- 
ject of it from all other feelings of this species, be- 
cause it is greater than all others, and like Aaron's 
serpent swallows up the rest. If we must be liable 
to fears, — and the transgressor always must be, — it 
is best that they should all be concentrated in one 
single overmastering sentiment. Unity is ever de- 
sirable; and even if the human soul were to be vis- 
ited by none but the servile forms of fear, it would 



TIIE USE OF FEAK IN EELIGKXN". 



327 



be better that this should be the "terror of the 
Lord." If, by having the fear of God before our 
eyes, we could thereby be delivered from the fear 
of man, and all those apprehensions which are con- 
nected with time and sense, would it not be wisdom 
to choose it \ We should then know that there was 
but one quarter from which our peace could be as- 
sailed. This would lead us to look in that direc- 
tion ; and, here upon earth, sinful man cannot look 
at God long, without coming to terms and becoming 
reconciled with Him. 

V. The fifth and last reason which we assign for 
cherishing the feeling and principle of fear applies 
to youth, to manhood, and to old age, alike : The 
fear of God conducts to the love of God. Our Lord 
does not command us to fear " Him, who after he 
hath killed hath power to cast into hell," because 
such a feeling as this is intrinsically desirable, and 
is an ultimate end in itself. It is, in itself, undesir- 
able, and it is only a means to an end. By it, our 
torpid souls are to be awakened from their torpor ; 
our numbness and hardness of mind, in respect to 
spiritual objects, is to be removed. We are never 
for a moment, to suppose that the fear of perdition 
is set before us as a model and permanent form ot 
experience to be toiled after, — a positive virtue and 
grace intended to be perpetuated through the whole 
future history of the soul. It is employed only as 
an antecedent to a higher and a happier emotion, ; 
and when the purpose for which it has been elicited 



328 



THE USE OF EEAE IN KELIGION. 



has been answered, it then disappears. "Perfect 
love casteth out fear ; for fear hath torment," 
(1 John iv. 18. 1 ) 

But, at the same time, we desire to direct atten- 
tion to the fact that he who has been exercised 
with this emotion, thoroughly and deeply, is con- 
ducted by it into the higher and happier form of 
religious experience. Religious fear and anxiety 
are the prelude to religious peace and joy. These 
are the discords that prepare for the concords. He, 
who in the Psalmist's phrase has known the power 
of the Divine anger, is visited with the manifesta- 
tion of the Divine love. The method in the thirty 
second psalm is the method of salvation. Day and 
night God's hand is heavy upon the soul ; the fear 
and sense of the Divine displeasure is passing through 
the conscience, like electric currents. The moisture, 
the sweet dew of health and happiness, is turned 
into the drought of summer, by this preparatory 
process. Then the soul acknowledges its sin, and 
its iniquity it hides no longer. It confesses its trans- 
gressions unto the Lord, — it justifies and approves 
of this wrath which it has felt, — and He forgives the 
iniquity of its sin. 

It is not a vain thing, therefore, to fear the Lord. 

1 Baxter (Narrative, Part I.) groweth up by degrees from the 
remarks "that fear, being an more troublesome and safe opera- 
easier «ond irresistible passion, tion of fear, to the more high 
doth oft obscure that measure of and excellent operations of com- 
love which is indeed within us ; placential love." 
and that the soul of a believer 



THE TTSE OF FEAE IN EELIGION. 



329 



The emotion of which we have been discoursing, 
painful though it be, is remunerative. There is 
something in the very experience of moral pain 
which brings us nigh to God. When, for instance, 
in the hour of temptation, I discern God's calm and 
holy eye bent upon me, and I wither beneath it, 
and resist the enticement because I fear to disobey, 
I am brought by this chapter in my experience into 
very close contact with my Maker. There has been 
a vivid and personal transaction between us. I 
have heard him say : " If thou doest that wicked 
thing thou shalt surely die; refrain from doing it, 
and I will love thee and bless thee." This is the 
secret of the great and swift reaction which often 
takes place, in the sinners soul. He moodily and 
obstinately fights against the Divine displeasure. 
In this state of things, there is nothing but fear 
and torment. Suddenly he gives way, acknowledges 
that it is a good and a just anger, no longer seeks 
to beat it back from his guilty soul, but lets the 
billows roll over while he casts himself upon the 
Divine pity. In this act and instant, — which in- 
volves the destiny of the soul, and has millenniums 
in it,— when he recognizes the justice and trusts in 
the mercy of God, there is a great rebound, and 
through his tears he sees the depth, the amazing 
depth, of the Divine compassion. For, paradoxical 
as it appears, God's love is best seen in the light of 
God's displeasure. When the soul is penetrated 
by this latter feeling, and is thoroughly sensible bf 



330 



THE USE OF FEAE IN RELIGION. 



its own worthlessness, — when man knows himself 
to be vile, and filthy, and fit only to be burned up 
by the Divine immaculateness, — then, to have the 
Great God take him to His heart, and pour out 
upon him the infinite wealth of His mercy and 
compassion, is overwhelming. Here, the Divine in- 
dignation becomes a foil to set off the Divine love. 
Read the sixteenth chapter of Ezekiel, with an eye 
" purged with euphrasy and rue," so that you can 
take in the full spiritual significance of the com- 
parisons and metaphors, and your whole soul will 
dissolve in tears, as you perceive how the great and 
pure God, in every instance in which He saves an 
apostate .spirit, is compelled to bow His heavens 
and come clown into a loathsome sty of sensual- 
rtw. 1 Would it be love of the highest order, in a ser- 
aph, to leave the pure cerulean and trail his white 
garments through the haunts of vice, to save the 
wretched inmates from themselves and their sins ? 
O then what must be the decree of affection and 
compassion, when the infinite Deity, whose essence 
is light itself, and whose nature is the intensest con- 
trary of all sin, tabernacles in the flesh upon the 
errand of redemption ! And if the pure spirit of 
that seraph, while filled with an ineffable loathing, 

lu Thus saitli the Lord God day that thou wast born. And 

unto Jerusalem, thy birth and thy when I passed by thee and saw 

nativity is of the land of Canaan ; thee polluted in thy own blood, 

thy father was an Amorite, and I said unto thee when thou wast 

thy mother an Hittite. Thou in thy blood, Live : yea I said 

wast cast out in the open field, to unto thee when thou wast in thy 

the loathing of thy person, in the blood, Live." Ezekiel xvi. 1, 5, 6. 



THE USE OF FEAR IN RELIGION. 



331 



and the hottest moral indignation, at what he saw 
in character and conduce, were also yearning with 
an unspeakable desire after the deliverance of the 
vicious from their vice, — the moral wrath thus set- 
ting in still stronger relief the moral compassion 
that holds it in check, — what must be the relation 
between these two emotions in the Divine Being ! 
Is not the one the measure of the other \ And does 
not the soul that fears Grocl in a submissive manner, 
and acknowledges the righteousness of the Divine 
displeasure with entire acquiescence and no sullen 
resistance, prepare the way, in this very act, for an 
equally intense manifestation of the Divine mercy 
and forgiven ess ? 

The subject treated of in this discourse is one of 
the most important, and frequent, that is presented 
in the Scriptures. He who examines is startled to 
find that the phrase, " fear of the Lord," is woven 
into the whole web of Revelation from Genesis to 
the Apocalypse. The feeling and principle under 
discussion has a Biblical authority, and significance, 
that cannot be pondered too long, or too closely. 
It, therefore, has an interest for every human being, 
whatever may be his character, his condition, or his 
circumstances. All great religious awakenings be- 
gin in the dawning of the august and terrible 
aspects of the Deity upon the popular mind, and 
they reach their height and happy consummation, 
in that love and faith for which the antecedent fear 
has been the preparation. Well and blessed would 



332 



THE USE OF FEAK IN KELIGION. 



it be for this irreverent and unfearing^ age, in which 
the advance in mechanical arts and vice is greater 
than that in letters and virtue, if the popular mind 
could be made reflective and solemn by this great 
emotion. 

We would, therefore, pass by all other feelings, 
and endeavor to fix the eye upon the distinct and 
unambiguous fear of God, and would urge the 
young, especially, to seek for it as for hid treasures. 
The feeling is a painful one, because it is a, prepara- 
tory one. There are other forms of religious emo- 
tion which are more attractive, and are necessary 
in their place ; these you may be inclined to culti- 
vate, at the expense of the one enjoined by our 
Lord in the text. But we solemnly and earnestly 
entreat you, not to suffer your inclination to divert 
your attention from your duty and your true inter- 
est. We tell you, with confidence, that next to 
the affectionate and filial love of God in your heart, 
there is no feeling or principle in the whole series 
that will be of such real solid service to you, as that 
one enjoined by our Lord upon " His disciples first 
of all." You will need its awing and repressing 
influence, in many a trying scene,, in many a severe 
temptation. Be encouraged to cherish it, from the 
fact that it is a very effective, a very powerful 
emotion. He who has the fear of God before his 
eyes is actually and often kept from falling. It 
will prevail with your weak will, and your infirm 
purpose, when other motives fail. And if you 



THE USE OF FEAR IN RELIGION. 



333 



could but stand where those do, who have passed 
through that fearful and dangerous passage through 
which you are now making a transit ; if you could 
but know, as they do, of what untold value is 
everything that deters from the wrong and nerves 
to the right, in the critical moments of human life; 
you would know, as they do, the utmost importance 
of cherishing a solemn and serious dread of dis- 
pleasing God. The more simple and unmixed this 
feeling is in your own experience, the more influen- 
tial will it be. Fix it deeply in the mind, that the 
great God is holy. Recur to this fact continually. 
If the dread which it awakens casts a shadow over 
the gayety of youth, remember that you need this, 
and will not be injured by it. The doctrine com- 
mends itself to you, because you are young, and 
because you are strong. If it fills you with mis- 
givings, at times, and threatens to destroy your 
peace of mind, let the emotion operate. Never stifle 
it, as you value your salvation. You had better 
be unhappy for a season, than yield to temptation 
and grievous snares which will drown you in per- 
dition. Even if it hangs dark and low over the 
horizon of your life, and for a time invests this 
world with sadness, be resolute with yourself, and 
do not attempt to remove the feeling, except in the 
legitimate way of the gospel. Remember that 
every human soul out of Christ ought to fear, " for 
he that believeth not on the Son, the wrath of God 
abideth on him." And remember, also, that every 

15* 



334 



THE USE OF FEAE IN RELIGION. 



one who believes in Christ ought not to fear ; fcr 
u there is no condemnation to them that are in 
Christ Jesus, and he that believeth on the Son hath 
everlasting life." 

And with this thought would we close. This 
fear of God may and should end in the perfect love 
that casteth out fear. This powerful and terrible 
emotion, which we have been considering, may and 
ought to prepare the soul to welcome the sweet 
and thrilling accents of Christ saying, u Come unto 
me all ye that are weary and heavy laden," with 
your fears of death, judgment, and eternity, "and I 
will give you rest." Faith in Christ lifts the soul 
above all fears, and eventually raises it to that 
serene world, that blessed state of being, where 
there is no more curse and no more forebodiug. 

" Serene will be our days, and bright, 
And happy will our nature be, 
When love is an unerring light, 
And joy its own security." 



THE PRESENT LIFE AS BELATED TO THE FUTURE. 



Luke xvi. 25. — "And Abraham said, Son remember that thon in thy lite- 
time receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things ; but 
now he is comforted, and thou art tormented." 



The parable of Dives and Lazarus is one of the 
most solemn passages in the whole Revelation of 
God. In it, our Lord gives very definite statements 
concerning the condition of those who have depart- 
ed this life. It makes no practical difference, 
whether we assume that this was a real occurrence, 
or only an imaginary one, — whether there actually 
was such a particular rich man as Dives, and such 
a particular beggar as Lazarus, or whether the nar- 
rative was invented by Christ for the purpose of 
conveying the instruction which he desired to give. 
The instruction is given in either case ; and it is 
the instruction with which we are concerned. Be 
it a parable, or be it a historical fact, our Lord here 
teaches, in a manner not to be disputed, that a man 
who seeks enjoyment in this life as his chief end 
shall suffer torments in the next life, and that he 
who endures suffering in this life for righteousness 1 



336 



THE PRESENT LITE AS 



sake shall dwell in paradise in the next, — that he 
who finds his life here shall lose his life hereafter, 
and that he who loses his life here shall find it here 
after. 

For, we cannot for a moment suppose that such 
a Being as Jesus Christ merely intended to play 
upon the fears of men, in putting forth such a pic- 
ture as this. He knew that this narrative would be 
read by thousands and millions of mankind ; that 
they would take it from His lips as absolute truth ; 
that they would inevitably infer from it, that the 
souls of men do verily live after death, that some of 
them are in bliss and some of them are in pain, and 
that the difference between them is due to the dif- 
ference in the lives which they lead here upon earth. 
Now, if Christ was ignorant upon these subjects, 
He had no right to make such representations and 
to give such impressions, even through a merely im- 
aginary narrative. And still less could He be jus- 
tified in so doing, if, being perfectly informed upon 
the subject, He knew that there is no such place as 
that in which He puts the luxurious Dives, and no 
such impassable gulf as that of which He speaks. 
It will not do, here, to employ the Jesuitical maxim 
that the end justifies the means, and say, as some 
teachers have said, that the wholesome impression 
that will be made upon the vicious' and the profli- 
gate justifies an appeal to their fears, by preaching 
the doctrine of endless retribution, although there 
is no such thino. This was a fatal error in the 



RELATED TO THE FUTURE. 



337 



teachings of Clement of Alexandria, and Origen. 
" God threatens,' 1 — said they, — " and punishes, bat 
only to improve, never for purposes of retribution ; 
and though, in public discourse, the fruitlessness of 
repentance after death be asserted, yet hereafter not 
only those who have not heard of Christ will re- 
ceive forgiveness, but the severer punishment which 
befalls the obstinate unbelievers will, it may be 
hoped, not be the conclusion of their history." 1 But 
can we suppose that such a sincere, such a truth- 
ful and such a holy Being as the Son of (rod 
would stoop to any such artifice as this ? that He 
who called Himself The Truth would employ a lie, 
either directly or indirectly, even to promote the 
spiritual welfare of men ? He never spake for mere 
sensation. The fact, then, that in this solemn pas- 
sage of Scripture we find the Redeemer calmly 
describing and minutely picturing the condition of 
two persons in the future world, distinctly specify- 
ing the points of difference between them, putting 
words into their mouths that indicate a sad and. 
hopeless experience in one of them, and a glad and 
happy one in the other of them, — the fact that in 
this treatment of the awful theme our Lord, beyond 
all controversy, conveys the impression that these 
scenes and experiences are real and true, — is one of 
the strongest of all proofs that they are so. 
The reader of Dante's Inferno is always struck with 

1 Shedd : History of Doctrine, II., 234 sq. 



338 



THE PRESENT LIEE AS 



the sincerity and realism of that poem. Under the 
delineation of that luminous, and that intense under- 
standing, hell has a topographic reality. We wind 
along down those nine circles as down a volcanic 
crater, black, jagged, precipitous, and impinging 
upon the senses at every step. The sighs and 
shrieks jar our own tympanum; and the convulsions 
of the lost excite tremors in our own nerves. No 
wonder that the children in the streets of Florence, 
as they saw the sad and earnest man pass along, his 
face lined with passion and his brow scarred with 
thought, pointed at him and said : "There goes the 
man who has been in hell." But how inhnitelv 
more solemn is the impression that is made by these 
thirteen short verses, of the sixteenth chapter of 
Luke's gospel, from the lips of such a Being as Je- 
sus Christ ! We have here the terse and pregnant 
teachings of one who, in the phrase of the early 
Creed, not only " descended into hell," but who 
" hath the keys of death and hell." We have here 
not the utterances of the most truthful, and the most 
earnest of all human poets, — a man who, we may 
believe, felt deeply the power of the Hebrew Bible, 
though living in a dark age, and a superstitious 
Church, — we have here the utterances of the Son of 
God, very God, of very God, and we may be cer- 
tain that He intended to convey no impression that 
will not be made good in the world to come. And 
when every eye shall see Him, and all the sinful 
kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him, 



RELATED TO THE FUTURE. 



339 



there will not be any eye that can look into His and 
say : " Thy description, O Son of God, was over- 
drawn ; the impression was greater than the reality." 
On the contrary, every human soul will say in the 
day of judgment : " We were forewarned ; the state- 
ments were exact ; even according to Thy fear, so is 
Thy wrath " (Ps. xc. 11). 

But what is the lesson which we are to read by 
this clear and solemn li^ht? What would our 
merciful Redeemer have us learn from this j^assage 
which He has caused to be recorded for our instruc- 
tion ? Let us listen with a candid and a feeling 
heart, because it comes to us not from an enemy of 
the human soul, not from a Beino- who delights to 
cast it into hell, but from a friend of the soul ; be- 
cause it comes to us from One who, in His own per- 
son and in His own flesh, suffered an anguish supe- 
rior in dignity and equal in cancelling power to the 
pains of all the hells, in order that we, through 
repentance and faith, might be spared their inflic- 
tion. 

The lesson is this : The man ivlio seeks enjoyment 
in this life, as his chief end, must suffer in the next 
life ; and he who endives suffering in this life, for 
righteousness' sake, shall he hajpjry in the next. " Son, 
remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy 
good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things ; but 
now he is comforted, and thou art tormented." 

It is a fixed principle in the Divine administra- 
tion, that the scales of justice shall in the end be 



340 



THE PRESENT LIFE A 



made equal. If, therefore, sin enjoys in this world, 
it must sorrow in the next ; and if righteousness sor- 
rows in this world, it must enjoy in the next. The 
experience shall be reversed, in order to bring every- 
thing to a riglit position and adjustment. This is 
everywhere taught in the Bible. " Woe unto you 
that are rich ! for ye have received your consolation. 
Woe unto you that are full ! for ye shall hunger. 
Woe unto you that laugh now ! for ye shall mourn 
and weep. Blessed are ye that hunger now ; for 
ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now ; 
for ye shall laugh " (Luke vi. 21, 24, 25). These 
are the explicit declarations of the Founder of 
Christianity, and they ought not to surprise us, 
coming as they do from Him who expressly declares 
that His kingdom is not of this world ; that in this 
world His disciples must have tribulation, as He 
had ; that through much tribulation they must enter 
into the kingdom of God ; that whosoever doth not 
take up the cross daily, and follow Him, cannot be 
His disciple. 

Let us notice some particulars, in which we see 
the operation of this principle. What are the 
" good things " which Dives receives here, for which 
he must be " tormented " hereafter ? and what are 
the " evil things " which Lazarus receives in this 
world, for which he will be " comforted " in the 
world to come ? 

L In the first place, the worldly man derives a 
more intense physical enjoyment from this world's 



KELATED TO THE FUTURE. 



341 



goods, than does the child of God. He possesses 
more of them, and gives himself up to them with 
less self-restraint. The majority of those who have 
been most prospered by Divine Providence in the 
accumulation of wealth have been outside of the 
kingdom and the ark of God. Not many rich and 
not many noble are called. In the past history of 
mankind, the great possessions and the great in- 
comes, as a general rule, have not been in the hands 
of humble and penitent men. In the great centres 
of trade and commerce, — in Venice, Amsterdam, 
Paris, London, — it is the world and not the people 
of God who have had the pnrse, and have borne 
what is put therein. Satan is described in Scrip- 
ture, as the " prince of this world " (John xiv. 30) ; 
and his words addressed to the Son of God are true : 
u All this power and glory is delivered unto me, 
and to whomsoever I will, I give it/' In the para- 
ble from which we are discoursing, the sinful man 
was the rich man, and the child of God was the 
beggar. And how often do we see, in e very-day 
life, a faithful, prayerful, upright, and pure-minded 
man, toiling in poverty, and so far as earthly com- 
forts are concerned enjoying little or nothing, while 
a selfish, pleasure-seeking, and profligate man is im- 
mersed in physical comforts and luxuries. The 
former is receiving evil things, and the latter is re- 
ceiving good things, in this life. 

Again, how often it happens that a fine physical 
constitution, health, strength, and vigor, are given 



342 



THE PKESENT LIFE AS 



to the worldling, and are denied to the child of God. 
The possession of worldly good is greatly enhanced 
in value, by a fine capability of enjoying it. When 
therefore we see wealth joined with health, and 
luxury in all the surroundings and appointments 
combined with taste to appreciate them and a full 
flow of blood to enjoy them, or access to wide and 
influential circles, in politics and fashion, given to 
one who is well fitted by personal qualities to move 
in them, — when we see a happy adaptation existing 
between the man and his good fortune, as we call 
it, — we see not only the "good things," but the 
" good things " in their gayest and most attractive 
forms and colors. And how often is all this observed 
in the instance of the natural man ; and how often 
is there little or none of this in the instance of the 
spiritual man. We by no means imply, that it is 
impossible for the possessor of this world's goods 
to love mercy, to do justly, and to walk humbly ; 
and we are well aware that under the garb of 
poverty and toil there may beat a murmuring and 
rebellious heart. But we think that from genera- 
tion to generation, in this imperfect and probation- 
ary world, it will be found to be a fact, that when 
merely earthly and physical good is allotted in large 
amounts by the providence of God ; that when 
great incomes and ample means of luxury are given ; 
in the majority of instances they are given to the 
enemies of God, and not to His dear children. So 
the Psalmist seems to have thought. " I was en- 



RELATED TO THE FUTURE. 



343 



vious," — lie says, — " when I saw the prosperity of 
the wicked. For there are no bands in their death ; 
but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble 
as other men ; neither are they plagued like other 
men. Therefore pride compasseth them about as a 
chain : violence covereth them as a garment. Their 
eyes stand out with fatness ; they have more than 
heart could wish. Behold these are the ungodly 
who prosper in the world ; they increase in riches. 
Verily Zhave cleansed my heart in vain, and wash- 
ed my hands in innocency. For all day long have 
./been plagued, and chastened every morning" (Ps. 
lxxiii). And it should be carefully noticed, that 
the Psalmist, even after farther reflection, does not 
alter his statement respecting the relative positions 
of the godly and the ungodly in this world. He 
sees no reason to correct his estimate, upon this 
point. He lets it stand. So far as this merely 
physical existence is concerned, the wicked man 
has the advantage. It is only when the Psalmist 
looks bevond this life, that he sees the compensation, 
and the balancing again of the scales of eternal 
right and justice. " When I thought to know this," 
— when I reflected upon this inequality, and ap- 
parent injustice, in the treatment of the friends and 
the enemies of God, — " it was too painful for me, 
until I went into the sanctuary of God," — until I 
took my stand in the eternal world, and formed my 
estimate there, — " then understood I their end. 
Surely thou didst set them in slippery places ■ thou 



344 



THE PEESEOT LIFE AS 



castedst them down to destruction. How are they 
brought into desolation as in a moment ! They are 
utterly consumed with terrors." Dives passes from 
his fine linen and sumptuous fare, from his excessive 
physical enjoyment, to everlasting perdition. 

II. In the second place, the worldly man derives 
more enjoyment from sin, and suffers less from it, 
in this life, than does the child of God. The really 
renewed man cannot enjoy sin. It is true that he 
does sin, owing to the strength of old habits, and 
the remainders of his corruption. But he does not 
really delight in it ; and he says with St. Paul : 
" What I would, that do I not ; but what I hate, 
that do I." His sin is a sorrow, a constant sorrow, 
to him. He feels its pressure and burden all his 
days, and cries : " O wretched man, who shall de- 
liver me from the body of this death." If he falls 
into it, he cannot live in it ; as a man may fall into 
water, but it is not his natural element. 

Again, the good man not only takes no real de- 
light in sin, but his reflections after transgression 
are very painful. He has a tender conscience. 
His senses have been trained and disciplined to 
discern good and evil. Hence, the sins that are 
committed by a child of God are mourned over 
with a very deep sorrow. The longer he lives, the 
more odious does sin become to him, and the more 
keen and bitter is his lamentation over it. Now 
this, in itself, is an " evil thing." Man was not 
made for sorrow, and sorrow is not his natural con- 



RELATED TO THE FUTURE. 



345 



dition. This wearisome struggle with indwelling 

CO o 

corruption, these reproaches of an impartial con- 
science, this sense of imperfection and of constant 
failure in the service of God, — all this renders the 
believer's life on earth a season of trial, and tribula- 
tion. The thought of its lasting forever would be 
painful to him : and if he should be told that it is 
the will of God, that he should continue to be 
vexed and foiled through all eternity, with the 
motions of sin in his members, and that his love 
and obedience would forever be imperfect, though 
he would be thankful that even this was granted 
him, and that he was not utterly cast off, yet he 
would wear a shaded brow, at the prospect of an 
imperfect, though a sincere and a struggling eter- 
nity. 

But the ungodly are not so. The worldly man 
loves sin ; loves pleasure ; loves self. And the 
love is so strong, and accompanied with so much 
enjoyment and zest, that it is lust, and is so denomi- 
nated in the Bible. And if you would only defend 
him from the wrath of God ; if you would warrant 
him immunity in doing as he likes; if you could 
shelter him as in an inaccessible castle from the 
retributions of eternity ; with what a delirium of 
pleasure would he plunge into the sin that he 
loves. Tell the avaricious man, that his avarice 
shall never have any evil consequences here or 
hereafter; and with what an energy would he 
apply himself to the acquisition of wealth. Tell 



346 



THE PRESENT LIFE AS 



the luxurious man, full of passion aud full of blood, 
that Lis pleasures shall never bring down any evil 
upon him, that there is no power in the universe 
that can hurt him, and with what an abandonment 
would he surrender himself to his carnal elysium. 
Tell the ambitious man, fired with visions of 
fame and glory, that he may banish all fears of 
a final account, that he may make himself his own 
deity, and breathe in the incense of worshipers, 
wit 1] out any rebuke from Him who says : " I am 
God, and my glory I will not give to another," — 
assure the proud and ambitious man that his sin 
will never find him out, and with what a momen- 
tum will he follow out his inclination. For, in 
each of these instances there is a hankering and a 
lust. The sin is loved and revelled in, for its own 
deliciousness. The heart is worldly, and therefore 
finds its pleasure in its forbidden objects and aims. 
The instant you propose to check or thwart this 
inclination ; the instant you try to detach this 
natural heart from its wealth, or its pleasure, or its 
earthly fame ; you discover how closely it clings, 
and how strongly it loves, and how intensely it 
enjoys the forbidden object. Like the greedy in- 
sect in our gardens, it has fed until every fibre and 
tissue is colored with its food; and to remove it 
from the leaf is to tear and lacerate it. 

Now it is for this reason, that the natural man 
receives " good things," or experiences pleasure, in 
this life, at a point where the spiritual man receives 



BELATED TO THE FUTURE. 



347 



"evil things," or experiences pain. The child of 
God does not relish and enjoy sin in this style. 
Sin in the good man is a burden ; hut in the 
bad man it is a pleasure. It is all the pleasure he 
has. And when you propose to take it away from 
him, or when you ask him to give it up of his own 
accord, he looks at you and asks : " Will you take 
away the only solace I have ? I have no joy in 
God. I take no enjoyment in divine things. Do 
you ask me to make myself wholly miserable % " 

And not only does the natural man enjoy sin, but, 
in this life, he is much less troubled than is the 
spiritual man with reflections and self-reproaches 
on account of sin. This is another of the " good 
things" which Dives receives, for which he must 
be " tormented ;" and this is another of the " evil 
things " which Lazarus receives, for which he must 
be " comforted." It cannot be denied, that in this 
world the child of God suffers more mental sorrow 
for sin, in a given period of time, than does the 
insensible man of the world. If we could look into 
the soul of a faithful disciple of Christ, we should 
discover that not a day passes, in w T hich his con- 
science does not reproach him for sins of thought, 
word, or deed ; in which he does not struggle with 
some bosom sin, until he is so weary that he cries 
out : " Oh that I had wings like a dove, so that I 
might fly away, and be at rest." Some of the most 
exemplary members of the Church go mourning 
from day to day, because their hearts are still *so 



348 



THE PKESENT LIFE AS 



far from their God and Saviour, and their lives fall 
so far short of what they desire them to be. 1 Their 
experience is not a positively wretched one, like 
that of an unforcriven sinner when he is feeling the 
stings of conscience. They are forgiven. The ex- 
piating blood has soothed the ulcerated conscience, 
so that it no longer stings and burns. They have 
hope in God's mercy. Still, they are in grief and 
sorrow for sin ; and their experience, in so far, is 
not a perfectly happy one, such as will ultimately 
be their portion in a better world. " If in this life 
only," — says St. Paul, — " we have hope in Christ, we 
are of all men most miserable" (1 Cor. xv. 19). 

But the stupid and impenitent man, a luxurious 
Dives, knows nothing of all this. His days glide 
by with no twinges of conscience. What does he 
know of the burden of sin ? His conscience is dead 
asleep ; perchance seared as with a hot iron. He 
does wrong without any remorse ; he disobeys the 
express commands of God, without any misgivings 



1 The early religious experience 
of John Owen furnishes a striking 
illustration. " For a quarter of 
a year, he avoided almost all in- 
tercourse with men ; could scarce- 
ly he induced to speak ; and 
when he did say anything, it 
was in so disordered a manner 
as rendered him a wonder to 
many. Only those who have 
experienced the bitterness of a 
wounded spirit can form an idea 
of the distress he must have suf- 
fered. Compared with this an- 
guish of soul, all the afflictions 
which befall a sinner [on earth] 



are trifles. One drop of that 
wrath which shall "finally fill the 
cup of the ungodly, poured into 
the mind, is enough to poison all 
the comforts of life, and to spread 
mourning, lamentation, and woe 
over the countenance. Though 
the violence of Owen's convic- 
tions had subsided after the first 
severe conflict, they still con- 
tinued to disturb his peace, and 
nearly five years elapsed from 
their commencement before he 
obtained solid comfort." Oemk : 
Life of Owen, Chap. I. 



RELATED TO THE FUTURE. 



349 



or self-reproach. He is " alive, without the law," — 
as St. Paul expresses it. His eyes stand out with 
fatness; and his heart, in the Psalmist's phrase, 
"is as fat as grease" (Ps. cxix. 70). There is no 
religious sensibility in him. His sin is a pleasure 
to him without any mixture of sorrow, because un- 
attended by any remorse of conscience. He is re- 
ceiving his " good things " in this life. His days 
pass by without any moral anxiety, and perchance 
as he looks upon some meek and earnest disciple 
of Christ who is battling; with indwelling sin, and 
who, therefore, sometimes wears a grave counte- 
nance, he wonders that any one should walk so 
soberly, so gloomily, in such a cheery, such a happy, 
such a jolly world as this. 

It is a startling fact, that those men in this world 
who have most reason to be distressed by sin are 
the least troubled by it ; and those who have the 
least reason to be distressed are the most troubled 
by it. The child of God is the one who sorrows 
most; and the child of Satan is the one who sor- 
rows least. Remember that we are speaking only of 
this life. The text reads : " Thou in thy lifetime re- 
ceivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil 
things." And it is unquestionably so. The meek 
and lowly disciple of Christ, the one who is most 
entitled by his character and conduct to be untroub- 
led by religious anxiety, is the very one who bows 
his head as a bulrush, and perhaps goes mourning 
all his days, fearing that he is not accepted, and 

16 



350 



THE PKESEOT LIEE AS 



that he shall be a cast-a-way ; while the selfish and 
thoroughly irreligious man, who ought to he stung 
through and through by his own conscience, and 
feel the full energy of the law which he is continu- 
ally breaking, — this man, who of all men ought to 
be anxious and distressed for sin, goes through a 
whole lifetime, perchance, without any convictions 
or any fears. 

And now we ask, if this state of things ought to 
last forever? Is it right, is it just, that sin should 
enjoy in this style forever and forever, and thai 
holiness should grieve and sorrow in this style for- 
evermore ? "Would you have the Almighty pay a 
bounty upon unrighteousness, and place goodness 
under eternal pains and penalties? Ought not this 
state of things to be reversed? When Dives comes 
to the end of this lifetime ; when he has run his 
round of earthly pleasure, faring sumptuously every 
day, clothed in purple and fine linen, without a 
thought of his duties and obligations, and without 
any anxiety and penitence for his sins, — when this 
worldly man has received all his " good things," and 
is satiated and hardened by them, ought he not 
then to be " tormented ?" Ought this guilty carnal 
enjoyment to be perpetuated through all eternity, 
under the government of a righteous and just God ? 
And, on the other hand, ought not the faithful dis- 
ciple, who, perhaps, has possessed little or nothing 
of this world's goods, who has toiled hard, in pov- 
erty, in affliction, in temptation, in tribulation, and 



RELATED TO THE FUTURE, 



351 



sometimes like Abraham in the horror of a great 
darkness, to keep his robes white, and his soul un- 
spotted from the world, — when the poor and weary 
Lazarus comes to the end of this lifetime, ought not 
his trials and sorrows to cease? ought he not then 
to be " comforted " in the bosom of Abraham, in the 
paradise of God ? There is that within us all, which 
answers, Yea, and Amen. Such a balancing of the 
scales is assented to, and demanded by the moral con- 
victions. Hence, in the parable, Dives himself is 
represented as acquiescing in the eternal judgment. 
He does not complain of injustice. It is true, that 
at first he asks for a drop of water, — for some slight 
mitigation of his punishment. This is the instinct- 
ive request of any sufferer. But when his atten- 
tion is directed to the right and the wrong of the 
case; when Abraham reminds him of the principles 
of justice by which his destiny has been decided ; 
when he tells him that having taken his choice of 
pleasure in the world which he has left, he cannot 
now have pleasure in the world to which he has . 
come; the wretched man makes no reply. There 
is nothing to be said. He feels that the procedure 
is just. He is then silent upon the subject of his 
own tortures, and only begs .that his five brethren, 
whose lifetime is not yet run out, to whom there is 
still a space left for repentance, may be warned from 
his own lips not to do as he has done, — not to choose 
pleasure on earth as their chief good ; not to take 
their " good things " in this life. Dives, the man in 



352 



THE PRESENT LIFE AS 



hell, is a witness to the justice of eternal punish 
ment. 

1. In view of this subject, as thus discussed, we 
remark in the first place, that no man can have his 
" good things," in other words, his chief pleasure, in 
both worlds. God and this world are in antagonism. 
" For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, 
the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of 
the Father, but is of the world. If any man love 
the world, the love of the Father is not in him" 
(1 John i. 15, 16). It is the height of folly, there- 
fore, to suppose that a man can make earthly en- 
joyment his chief end while he is upon earth, 
and then pass to heaven when he dies. Just so far 
as he holds on upon the "good things" of this life, 
he relaxes his grasp upon the " good things " of the 
next. No man is capacious enough to hold both 
worlds in his embrace. He cannot serve God and 
Mammon. Look at this as a matter of fact. Do 
not take it as a theory of the preacher. It is as 
plain and certain that you cannot lay up your treas- 
ure in heaven while you are laying it up upon earth, 
as it is that your material bodies cannot occupy two 
portions of space at one and the same time. Dismiss, 
therefore, all expectations of being able to accom- 
plish an impossibility. Put not your mind to sleep 
with the opiate, that in some inexplicable manner 
you will be able to live the life of a worldly man 
upon earth, and then the life of a spiritual man in 
heaven. There is no alchemy that can amalgamate 



BELATED TO THE FUTURE. 



353 



Bubstances that refuse to mix. No man has ever 
yet succeeded, no man ever will succeed, in securing 
both the pleasures of sin and the pleasures of holi- 
ness, — in living the life of Dives, and then going to 
the bosom of Abraham. 

2. And this leads to the second remark, that 
every man must make his choice whether he will 
have his " good things " now, or hereafter. Every 
man is making his choice. Every man has already 
made it. The heart is now set either upon God, 
or upon the world. Search through the globe, and 
you cannot find a creature with double affections ; a 
creature with two chief ends of living ; a creature 
whose treasure is both upon earth and in heaven. 
All mankind are single-minded. They either mind 
earthly things, or heavenly things. They are in 
spired with one predominant purpose, which rules 
them, determines their character, and decides their 
destiny. And in all who have not been renewed 
by Divine grace, the purpose is a wrong one, a 
false and fatal one. It is the choice and the pur- 
pose of Dives, and not the choice and purpose of 
Lazarus. 

3. Hence, w T e remark in the third place, that it 
is the duty and the wisdom of every man to let this 
world go, and seek his " good things " hereafter. 
Our Lord commands every man to sit down, like 
the steward in the parable, and make an estimate. 
He enjoins it upon every man to reckon np the 
advantages upon each side, and see for himself 



354 



THE PKESEOT LIFE AS 



which is superior. He asks every man what it 
will profit him, " if he shall gain the whole world 
and lose his own sonl; or, what he shall give in 
exchange for his soul." We urge you to make this 
estimate, — to compare the " good things " which 
Dives enjoyed, with the "torments" that followed 
them ; and the " evil things " which Lazarus suf- 
fered, with the " comfort " that succeeded them. 
There can be no doubt upon which side the balance 
will fall. And we urge you to take the " evil 
things " now, and the " good things " hereafter. We 
entreat you to copy the example of Moses at the 
court of the Pharaohs, and in the midst of all reo^al 
luxury, who " chose rather to suffer affliction with 
the people of God, than enjoy the pleasures of sin 
tor a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ, 
greater riches than the treasures in Egypt : for lie 
had respect unto the recompense of reward? Take 
the narrow way. What though it be strait and 
narrow ; you are not to walk in it forever. A few 
short years of fidelity will end the toilsome pilgrim- 
age ; and then you will come out into a " wealthy 
place." We might tell you of the joys of the 
Christian life that are mingled with its trials and 
sorrows even here upon earth. For, this race to 
which we invite you, and this fight to which we 
call you, have their own peculiar, solemn, substan- 
tial joy. And even their sorrow is tinged with 
glory. In a higher, truer sense than Protesilaus in 
•the poem says it of the pagan elysium, we may say 



RELATED TO THE FUTURE. 



355 



even of the Christian race, and the Christian fight, 

"Calm pleasures there abide — majestic pains." 1 

But we do not care, at this point, to influence 
you by a consideration of the amount of enjoyment, 
in this life, which you will derive from a close and 
humble walk with God. We prefer to put the case 
in its baldest form, — in the aspect in which sve find 
it in our text. We will say nothing at all about 
the happiness of a Christian life, here in time. We 
will talk only of its tribulations. We will only 
say, as in the parable, that there are " evil things " 
to be endured here upon earth, in return for which 
we shall have " good things " in another life. There 
is to be a moderate and sober use of this world's 
goods ; there is to be a searching sense of sin, and 
an humble confession of it before God ; there is to 
be a cross-bearing every day, and a struggle with 
indwelling corruption. These will cost effort, watch- 
fulness, and earnest prayer for Divine assistance. 
We do not invite you into the kingdom of God, 
without telling you frankly and plainly beforehand 
what must be done, and what must be suffered. 
But having told you this, we then tell you with the 
utmost confidence and assurance, that yon will be 
infinitely repaid for your choice, if you take your 
" evil things " in this life, and choose your " good 
things " in a future. We know, and are certain, that 
this light affliction which endures but for a moment, 
in comparison with the infinite duration beyond 

1 Woedswoeth :- Laodamia. 



356 



THE PBESENT LIFE AS 



the tomb, will work out a far more exceeding and 
eternal weight of glory. We entreat you to look 
no longer at the things which are seen, but at the 
things which are not seen ; for the things that are 
seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen 
are eternal. 

Learn a parable from a wounded soldier. His 
limb must be amputated, for mortification and gan- 
grene have begun their work. He is told that the 
surgical operation, which will last a half hour, 
will yield him twenty or forty years of healthy and 
active life. The endurance of an " evil thing," for 
a few moments, will result in the possession of a 
" good thing," for many long days and years. He 
holds out the limb, and submits to the knife. He 
accepts the inevitable conditions under which he 
finds himself. He is resolute and stern, in order 
to secure a great good in the future. 

It is the practice of this same principle, though 
not in the use of the same kind of power, that we 
would urge upon you. Looh up to God for grace 
and help, and deliberately forego a present advan- 
tage, for the sake of something infinitely more val- 
uable hereafter. Do not, for the sake of the tem- 
porary enjoyment of Dives, lose the eternal happi- 
ness of Lazarus. Rather, take the place, and ac- 
cept the "evil things," of the beggar. Look up to 
God for grace and strength to do it, and then live 
a life of contrition for sin, and faith in Christ's 
blood. Deny yourself, and take up the cross daily. 



RELATED TO THE FUTURE. 



357 



Expect your happiness hereafter. Lay up your 
treasure above. Then, in the deciding day, it will 
be said of you, as it will be of all the true children 
of God : " These are they which came out of great 
tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made 
them white in the blood of the Lamb." 

16* 



THE EXERCISE OF MERCY OPTIONAL WITH GOD. 



Romans ix. 15. — " For He saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will 
havo mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." 



This is a part of the description which God him- 
self gave to Moses, of His own nature and attributes. 
The Hebrew legislator had said to Jehovah : " I 
beseech thee show me thy glory." He desired a 
clear understanding of the character of that Great 
Being, under whose guidance he was commissioned 
to lead the people of Israel into the promised land. 
God said 10 him in reply : " I will make all my 
goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the 
name of the Lord before thee ; and I will be 
gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew 
mercy on whom I will shew mercy." 1 

By this, God revealed to Moses, and through him 
to all mankind, the fact that He is a merciful being, 
and directs attention to one particular characteristic 

1 Compare, also, the very full This is the more noteworthy, as 

announcement of mercy as a Di- it occurs in connection with the 

vine attribute that was to be ex- giving of the law. 
ercised, in Exodus xxxiv. 6, 7. 



THE EXERCISE OF MERCY. 



359 



of mercy. While informing His servant, that He 
is gracious and clement towards a penitent trans- 
gressor, He at the same time teaches him that He 
is under no obligation, or necessity, to shew mercy. 
Grace is not a debt. " I will have mercy on whom 
I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on 
whom I will have compassion." 

The apostle Paul quotes this declaration, to 
shut the mouth of him who would set up a claim 
to salvation ; who is too proud to beg for it, 
and accept it as a free and unmerited favor from 
God. In so doing, he endorses the sentiment. 
The inspiration of his Epistle corroborates that 
of the Pentateuch, so that we have assurance 
made doubly sure, that this is the correct enuncia- 
tion of the nature of mercy. Let us look into this 
hope-inspiring attribute of God, under the guidance 
of this text. 

The great question that presses upon the human 
mind, from age to age, is the inquiry : Is God a 
merciful Being, and will He show mercy ? Living 
as we do under the li^ht of Revelation, we know 
little of the doubts and fears that spontaneously 
rise in the guilty human soul, when it is left solely 
to the light of nature to answer it. "With the Bible 
in our hands, and hearing the good news of Redemp- 
tion from our earliest years, it seems to be a matter 
of course that the Deity should pardon sin. Kay, 
a certain class of men in Christendom seem to have 
come to the opinion that it is more difficult to prove 



360 



THE EXEECISE OE MERCY 



that God is just, than to prove that He is merciful. 1 
But this is not the thought and feeling of man when 
outside of the pale of Revelation. Go into the an- 
cient pagan world, examine the theologizing of the 
Greek and Roman mind, and you will discover that 
the fears of the justice far outnumbered the hopes 
of the mercy ; that Plato and Plutarch and Cicero 
and Tacitus were far more certain that God would 
punish sin, than that He would pardon it. This is 
the reason that there is no light, or joy, in any of 
the pagan religions. Except when religion was 
converted into the worship of Beauty, as in the in 
stance of the later Greek, and all the solemn and 
truthful ideas of law and justice were eliminated 
from it, every one of the natural religions of the 
globe is filled with sombre and gloomy hues, and 
no others. The truest and best religions of the 
ancient world were always the sternest and saddest, 
because the unaided human mind is certain that 



1 Their creed lives in the satire 
of Young (Universal Passion. Sat- 
ire VI.), — as full of sense, truth, 



and pungency now, as it was one 
hundred years ago. 



" From atheists far, they steadfastly believe 
G-od is, and is Almighty — to forgive. 
His other excellence they'll not dispute ; 
But mercy, sure, is His chief attribute. 
Shall pleasures of a short duration chain 
A lady's soul in everlasting pain ? 
Will the great Author us poor worms destroy, 
For now and then a sip of transient j«»y ? 
No, He's forever in a smiling mood ; 
He's like themselves ; or how could He be good ? 
And they blaspheme, who blacker schemes suppose. 
Devoutly, thus, Jehovah they depose, 
The Pure! the Just! and set up in His stead, 
A deity that's perfectly well-bred." 



OPTIONAL WITH GOD. 



361 



God is just, but is not certain that He is merciful. 
When man is outside of Kevelation, it is by no 
means a matter of course that God is clement, and 
that sin shall be forgiven. Great uncertainty over- 
hangs the doctrine of the Divine mercy, from the 
position of natural religion, and it is only within 
the province of revealed truth that the uncertainty 
is removed. Apart from a distinct and direct 
promise from the lips of God Himself that He will 
forgive sin, no human creature can be sure that sin 
will ever be forgiven. Let us, therefore, look into 
the subject carefully, and see the reason why man, 
if left to himself and his spontaneous reflections, 
doubts whether there is mercy in the Holy One 
for a transgressor, and fears that there is none, and 
why a special revelation is consequently required, to 
dispel the doubt and the fear. 

The reason lies in the fact, implied in the text, 
that the exercise of justice is necessary, lohile that of 
mercy is optional. " I will have mercy on whom I 
'please to have mercy, and I will have compassion on 
whom I please to have compassion." It is a prin- 
ciple inlaid in the structure of the human soul, that 
the transgression of law must be visited with retri- 
bution. The pagan conscience, as well as the Chris- 
tian, testifies that " the soul that sinneth it shall 
die." There is no need of quoting from pagan phi- 
losophers to prove this. We should be compelled 
to cite page after page, should we enter upon the 
documentary evidence. Take such a tract, for ex- 



362 



THE EXERCISE OF MEECY 



ample, as that of Plutarch, upon what he denomi 
nates " the slow vengeance of the Deity ; " read the 
reasons which he assigns for the apparent delay, in 
this world, of the infliction of punishment upon 
transgressors ; and you will perceive that the human 
mind, when left to its candid and unbiassed con- 
victions, is certain that God is a holy Being and 
will visit iniquity with penalty. Throughout this 
entire treatise, composed by a man who probably 
never saw the Scriptures of either the New or the 
Old Dispensation, there runs a solemn and deep 
consciousness that the Deity is necessarily obliged, 
by the principles of justice, to mete out a retribu- 
tion to the violator of law. Plutarch is engaged 
with the very same question that the apostle Peter 
takes up, in his second Epistle, when he answers 
the objection of 'the scoffer who asks : Where is the 
promise of God's coming in judgment ? The apos- 
tle replies to it, by saying that for the Eternal Mind 
one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years 
as one day, and that therefore u the Lord is not 
slack concerning His promise, as some men count 
slackness ; " and Plutarch answers it in a different 
manner, but assumes and affirms with the same 
positiveness and certainty that the vengeance will 
ultimately come. No reader of this treatise can 
doubt for a moment, that its author believed in the 
future punishment of the wicked, — and in the future 
endless punishment of the incorrigibly wicked, be- 
cause there is not the slightest hint or expectation 



OPTIONAL WITH GOD. 



363 



of any exercise of mercy, on tbe part of this Divinity 
whose vengeance, though slow, is sure and inevita- 
ble. 1 Some theorists tell us that the doctrine of 
endless punishment contradicts the instincts of the 
natural reason, and that it has no foundation in the 
constitution of the human soul. We invite them 



1 Plutarch supposes a form of 
punishment in the future world 
that is disciplinary. If it accom- 
plishes its purpose, the soul goes 
into Elysium, — a doctrine like 
that of purgatory in the Papal 
scheme. But in case the person 
proves incorrigible, his suffering 
is endless. He represents an in- 
dividual as having been restored 
to life, and giving an account of 
what he had seen. Among other 
things, he 41 informed his friend, 
how that Adrastia, the daughter 
of Jupiter and Necessity, was seat- 
ed in the highest place of all, to 
punish all manner of crimes and 
enormities, and that in the whole 
number of the wicked and ungod- 
ly there never was any one, 
whether great or little, high or 
low, rich or poor, that could ever 
by force or cunning escape the 
severe lashes of her rigor. But 
as there are three sorts of punish- 
ment, so there are three several 
Furies, or female ministers of jus- 
tice, and to every one of these 
belongs a peculiar office and de- 
gree of punishment. The first of 
these was called lioivi) or Pain ; 
whose executions are swift and 
speedy upon those that are pres- 
ently to receive bodily punish- 
ment in this life, and which she 
manages after a more gentle man- 
ner, omitting the correction of 
slight offences, which need but 
little expiation. But if the cure 
of impiety require a greater labor, 
the Deity delivers those, after 



death, to k'naj or Vengeance. But 
when Vengeance has given them 
over as altogether incurable, then 
the third and most severe of all 
Adrastia's ministers, 'Epivvs or 
Fury, takes them in hand, and 
after she has chased and coursed 
them from one place to another, 
flying yet not knowing where to 
fly for shelter and relief, plagued 
and tormented with a thousand 
miseries, she plunges them head- 
long into an invisible abyss, the 
hideousness of which no tongue 
can express " Plutarch: Mor- 
als, Vol. IV. p. 210. Ed. 1694. 
Plato (Gorgias 525. c. d. Ed. 
Bip. IV. 169) represents Socrates 
as teaching that those who " have 
committed the most extreme 
wickedness, and have become in- 
curable through such crimes, are 
made an example to others, and 
suffer forever (jracxovrac rbv ael 
xpovov) the greatest, most agoniz- 
ing, and most dreadful punish- 
ment." x\nd Socrates adds 
that "Homer (Odyssey xi. 575) 
also bears witness to this ; for he 
represents kings and potentates, 
Tantalus, Sysiphus, and Tityus, 
as being tormented forever in 
Hades" (ev qdov rbv ael %povov ri- 
fiupovuhog). — In the Aztec or Mex- 
ican theology, "the wicked, com- 
prehending the greater part of 
mankind, were to expiate their 
sin in a place of everlasting dark- 
ness." Prescott : Conquest of 
Mexico, Vol. I. p. 62. 



364 



THE EXERCISE OF MEECY 



to read and ponder well, the speculations of one of 
the most thoughtful of pagans upon this subject, 
and tell us if they see any streaks or rays of light 
in it ; if they see any inkling, any jot or tittle, of 
the doctrine of the Divine pity there. We challenge 
them to discover in this tract of Plutarch the slight- 
est token, or sign, of the Divine mercy. The author 
believes in a hell for the wicked, and an elysium 
for the good ; but those who go to hell go there 
npon principles of justice, and those who go to ely- 
sium go there upon the same principles. It is jus- 
tice that must place men in Tartarus, and it is jus- 
tice that must place them in Elysium. In pagan- 
ism, men must earn their heaven. The idea of 
mercy, — of clemency towards a transgressor, of pity 
towards a criminal, — is entirely foreign to the 
thoughts of Plutarch, so far as they can be gathered 
from this tract. It is the clear and terrible doctrine 
of the pagan sage, that unless a man can make good 
his claim to eternal happiness uj)on the ground of 
law and justice, — unless he merits it by good 
works, — there is no hope for him in the other 
world. 

The idea of a forgiving and tender mercy in the 
Supreme Being, exercised towards a creature whom 
justice would send to eternal retribution, nowhere 
appears in the best pagan ethics. And why should 
it \ "What evidence or proof has the human mind, 
apart from the revelations made to it in the Old 
and New Testaments, that God will ever forgive 

7 O 



OPTIONAL WITH GOD. 



305 



sin, or ever show mercy ? In thinking upon the 
subject, our reason perceives, intuitively, that God 
must of necessity punish transgression ; and it per- 
ceives with equal intuitiveness that there is no cor- 
responding necessity that He should pardon it. We 
say with confidence and positiveness : " God must 
be just ; " but we cannot say with any certainty 
or confidence at all : " God must be merciful." 
The Divine mercy is an attribute which is per- 
fectly free and optional, in its exercises, and 
therefore we cannot tell beforehand whether it 
will or will not be shown to transgressors. We 
know nothing at all about it, until we hear some 
word from the lips of God Himself upon the point. 
AVhen He opens the heavens, and speaks in a clear 
tone to the human race, saying, " I will forgive your 
iniquities," then, and not till then, do they know 
the fact. In reference to all those procedures which, 
like the punishment of transgression, are fixed and 
necessary, because they are founded in the eternal 
principles of law and justice, we can tell beforehand 
what the Divine method will be. We do not need 
any special revelation, to inform us that God is a 
just Being, and that His anger is kindled against 
wickedness, and that He will punish the transgress- 
or. This class of truths, the Apostle informs us, 
are written in the human constitution, and we have 
already seen that they were known and dreaded in 
the pagan world. That which God must do, He 
certainly will do. He must be just, and therefore 



366 



THE EXERCISE OF MERCY 



He certainly will punish sin, is the reasoning of the 
human raind, the world over, and in every age. 1 

But, when we pass from the punishment of sin 
to the pardon of it, when we go over to the merci- 
ful side of the Divine Nature, we can come to no 
certain conclusions, if we are shut up to the work- 
ings of our own minds, or to the teachings of the 
world of nature about us. Picture to yourself a 
thoughtful pagan, like Solon the legislator of 
Athens, living in the heart of heathenism five cen- 
turies before Christ, and knowing nothing of the 
promise of mercy which broke faintly through the 
heavens immediately after the apostasy of the first 
human pair, and which found its full and victorious 
utterance in the streaming blood of Calvary. Sup- 



1 It may be objected, at this 
point, that mercy also is a neces- 
sary attribute in God, like justice 
itself. — that it necessarily belongs 
to the nature of a perfect Being, 
and therefore might be inferred. 
a priori by the pagan, like other 
attributes. This is time ; but the 
objection overlooks the distinc- 
tion between the existence of an 
attribute and its exercise. Om- 
nipotence necessarily belongs to 
the idea of the Supreme Being, 
but it does not follow that it must 
necessarily be exerted in act. Be- 
cause God is able to create the 
universe of matter and mind, it 
does not follow that he must 
create it. The doctrine of the 
necessity of creation, though held 
in a few instances by theists who 
seem not to have discerned its 
logical consequences, is virtually 
pantheistic. Had God been pleas- 



ed to dwell forever in the self- 
sufficiency of His Trinity, and 
never called the Finite into exist- 
ence from nothing, He might have 
done so, and He would still have 
been omnipotent and " blessed 
forever." In like manner, the 
attribute of mercy might exist in 
God, and yet not be exerted. 
Had He been pleased to treat the 
human race as He did the fallen 
angels, He was perfectly at lib- 
erty to do so, and the number 
and quality of his immanent at- 
tributes would have been the 
same that they are now. But 
justice is an attribute which not 
only exists of necessity, but must 
be exercised of necessity ; because 
not to exercise it would be injus- 
tice. — For a fuller exposition of 
the nature of justice, see Shedd: 
Discourses and Essays, pp. 291- 
300. 



OPTIONAL WITH GOD. 



367 



pose that the accusing and condemning law written 
upon his conscience had shown its work, and made 
him conscious of sin. Suppose that the question 
had risen within him, whether that Dread Being 
whom he "ignorantly worshipped," and against 
whom he had committed the offence, would for 
give it ; was there anything in his own soul, was 
there anything in the world around him or above 
him, that could give him an affirmative answer ? 
The instant he put the question : Will God punish 
me for my transgression ? the affirming voices were 
instantaneous and authoritative. "The soul that 
sinneth it shall die" was the verdict that came 
forth from the recesses of his moral nature, and 
was echoed and re-echoed in the suffering, pain, and 
physical death of a miserable and groaning world 
all around him. But when he put the other 
question to himself: Will the Deity pardon me 
for my transgression % there was no affirmative 
answer from any source of knowledge accessible to 
him. If he sought a reply from the depths of his 
own conscience, all that he could hear was the ter- 
rible utterance : " The soul that sinneth it shall 
die." The human conscience can no more promise, 
or certify, the forgiveness of sin, than the ten com- 
mandments can do so. When, therefore, this pa- 
gan, convicted of sin, seeks a comforting answer to 
his anxious inquiry respecting the Divine clemency 
towards a criminal, he is met only with retributive 
thunders and lightnings; he hears only that accus- 



368 



THE EXERCISE OF MERCY 



ing and condemning law which is written on the 
heart, and experiences that fearful looking-for of 
judgment and fiery indignation which St. Paul 
describes, in the first chapter of Romans, as work- 
ing in the mind of the universal pagan world. 

But we need not go to Solon, and the pagan 
world, for evidence upon this subject. Why is it 
that a convicted man under the full light of the 
gospel, and with the unambiguous and explicit 
promise of God to forgive sins ringing in his ears, 
■ — why is it, that even under these favorable cir- 
cumstances a guilt-smitten man finds it so difficult 
to believe that there is mercy for him, and to trust 
in it ? Nay, why is it that he finds it impossible 
fully to believe that Jehovah is a sin-pardoning 
God, unless he is enabled so to do by the Holy 
Ghost ? It is because he knows that God is under 
a necessity of punishing his sin, but is under no 
necessity of pardoning it. The very same judicial 
principles are operating in his mind that operate 
in that of a pagan Solon, or any other transgressor 
outside of the revelation of mercy. That which 
holds back the convicted sinner from casting him- 
self upon the Divine pity is the perception that 
God must be just. This fact is certain, whether 
anything else is certain or not. And it is not un- 
til he perceives that God can be both just and the 
justifier of him that believeth in Jesus; it is not 
until he sees that, through the substituted suffer- 
ings of Christ, God can punish sin while at the 



OPTIONAL WITH GOD. 



369 



same time He pardons it, — can punish it in the 
Substitute while He pardons it in the sinner, — it 
is not until he is enabled to apprehend the doc- 
trine of vicarious atonement, that his doubts and 
fears respecting the possibility and reality of the 
Divine mercy are removed. The instant he dis- 
covers that the exercise of pardon is rendered en- 
tirely consistent with the justice of God, by the 
substituted death of the Son of God, he sees the 
Divine mercy, and that too in the high form of 
self-sacrifice and trusts in it, and is at peace. 

These considerations are sufficient to show, that 
according to the natural and spontaneous opera- 
tions of the human intellect, justice stands in the 
way of the exercise of mercy, and that therefore, if 
man is not informed by Divine Revelation respect- 
ing this latter attribute, he can never acquire the 
certainty that God will forgive his sin. There are 
two very important and significant inferences from 
this truth, to which we now ask serious attention. 

1. In the first place, those who deny the credi- 
bility, and Divine authority, of the Scriptures of 
the Old and New Testaments shut up the whole 
world to doubt and despair. For, unless God has 
spoken the word of mercy in this written Revela- 
tion, He has not spoken it anywhere ; and we 
have seen, that unless He has spoken such a mer- 
ciful word somewhere, no human transgressor can be 
certain of anything but stark unmitigated justice 
and retribution. Do you tell us that God is too 



370 



THE EXEECTSE OF MERCY 



good to punisli men, and that therefore it must be 
that He is merciful I We tell you, in reply, that 
God is good when He punishes sin, and your own 
conscience, like that of Plutarch, re-echoes the reply. 
Sin is a wicked thing, and when the Holy One 
visits it with retribution, He is manifesting the 
purest moral excellence and the most immaculate 
perfection of character that we can conceive of. 
But if by goodness you mean mercy, then we say 
that this is the very point in dispute, and you must 
not beg the point but must prove it. And now, 
if you deny the authority and credibility of the 
Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, we ask 
you upon what ground you venture to affirm that 
God will pardon man's sin. You cannot demon- 
strate it upon any a priori and necessary principles. 
You cannot show that the Deity is obligated to 
remit the penalty due to transgression. You can 
prove the necessity of the exercise of justice, but 
you cannot prove the necessity of the exercise of 
mercy. It is purely optional with God, whether 
to pardon or not. If, therefore, you cannot estab- 
lish the fact of the Divine clemency by a priori 
reasoning, — if you cannot make out a necessity for 
the exercise of mercy, — you must betake yourself 
to the only other method of proof that remains to 
you, the method of testimony. If you have the 
declaration and promise of God, that He will for- 
give iniquity, transgression, and sin, you may be 
certain of the fact, — as certain as you would be, 



OPTIONAL WITH GOD. 



371 



could you prove the absolute necessity of the ex- 
ercise of mercy. For God's promise cannot be 
broken. God's testimony is sure. But, by the 
supposition, you deny that this declaration has 
been made, and this promise has been uttered, in 
the written Revelation of the Christian Church. 
"Where then do you send me for the information, 
and the testimony ? Have you a private revelation 
of your own ? Has the Deity spoken to you in 
particular, and told you that He will forgive your 
sin, and my sin, and that of all the generations ? 
Unless this declaration has been made either to 
you or to some other one, we have seen that you 
cannot establish the certainty that God will for- 
give sin. It is a purely optional matter with Him, 
and whether He will or no depends entirely upon 
His decision, determination, and declaration. If 
He says that He will pardon sin, it will certainly 
be done. But until He says it, you and every 
other man must be remanded to the inexorable 
decisions of conscience which thunder out : "The 
soul that sinneth it shall die." Whoever, there- 
fore, denies that God in the Scriptures of the Old 
and New Testaments has broken through the veil 
that hides eternity from time, and has testified to 
the human race that He will forgive sin, and has 
solemnly promised to do so, takes away from the 
human race the only ground of certainty which 
they possess, that there is pity in the heavens, and 
that it will be shown to sinful creatures like them- 



372 



THE EXEECISE OF MERCY 



selves. But this is to shut them up again, to the 
doubt and hopelessness of the pagan world, — a 
world without Re v elation. 

2. In the second place, it follows from this sub- 
ject, that mankind must take the declaration and 
promise of God, respecting the exercise of mercy, 
precisely as He has given it. They must follow 
the record implicitly, without any criticisms or 
alterations. Not only does the exercise of mercy 
depend entirely upon the will and pleasure of God, 
but, the mode, the conditions, and the length of 
time during which the offer shall be made, are all 
dependent upon the same sovereignty. Let us 
look at these particulars one by one. 

In the first place, the method by which the 
Divine clemency shall be manifested, and the con- 
ditions upon which the offer of forgiveness shall be 
made, are matters that rest solely with God. If it 
is entirely optional with Him whether to pardon 
at all, much more does it depend entirely upon 
Him to determine the way and means. It is here 
that we stop the mouth of him who objects to the 
doctrine of forgiveness through a vicarious atone- 
ment. We will by no means, concede, that the ex- 
hibition of mercy through the vicarious satisfaction 
of justice is an optional matter, and that God 
might have dispensed with such satisfaction, had 
He so willed. We believe that the forgiveness of 
sin is possible even to the Deity, only through a 
substituted sacrifice that completely satisfies the 



OPTIONAL WITH GOD. 



373 



demands of law and justice. — that without the 
shedding of expiating blood there is no remission 
of sin possible or conceivable, under a government 
of law. But, without asking the objector to come 
up to this high ground, we are willing, for the sake 
of the argument, to go down upon kis low one ; and 
we say, that even if the metaphysical necessity of an 
atonement could not be maintained, and that it is 
purely optional with (rod whether to employ this 
method or not, it would still be the duty and wis- 
dom of man to take the record just as it reads, 
and to accept the method that has actually been 
adopted. If the Sovereign has a perfect right to 
say whether He will or will not pardon the crimi- 
nal, has He not the same right to say lioiv He will 
do it? If the transgressor, upon principles of jus- 
tice, could be sentenced to endless misery, and yet 
the Sovereign Judge concludes to offer him forgive- 
ness and eternal life, shall the criminal, the culprit 
who could not stand an instant in the judgment, 
presume to quarrel with the method, and dictate 
the terms by which his own pardon shall be se- 
cured ? Even supposing, then, that there were no 
intrinsic necessity for the offering of an infinite 
sacrifice to satisfy infinite justice, the Great God 
might still take the lofty ground of sovereignty, 
and say to the criminal : " My will shall stand for 
my reason ; I decide to offer you amnesty and 
eternal joy, in this mode, and upon these terms. 

The reasons for my method are known to myself. 
17 



374 



THE EXERCISE OE MERCY 



Take mercy in this method, or take justice. Re- 
ceive the forgiveness of sin in this mode, or else 
receive the eternal and just punishment of sin. 
Can I not do what I will with mine own ? Is 
thine eye evil because I am good ? " God is under 
no necessity to offer the forgiveness of sin to any 
criminal upon any terms; still less is He hedged up 
to a method of forgiveness prescribed by the crimi- 
nal himself. 

Again, the same reasoning will apply to the 
time during which the offer of mercy shall be ex- 
tended. If it is purely optional with God, whether 
He will pardon my sin at all, it is also purely 
optional with Him to fix the limits within which 
He will exercise the act of pardon. Should He 
tell me, that if I would confess and forsake my 
sins to-day, He would blot them out forever, but 
that the gracious offer should be withdrawn to- 
morrow, what conceivable ground of complaint 
could I discover? He is under no necessity of 
extending the pardon at this moment, and neither 
is He at the next, or any future one. Mercy is 
grace, and not debt. Now it has pleased God, to 
limit the period during which the work of Re- 
demption shall go on. There is a point of time, 
for eveiy sinful man, at which there remaineth 
no more sacrifice for sin" (Heb. x. 26). The 
period of Redemption is confined to earth and 
time ; and unless the sinner exercises repentance 
towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, 



OPTIONAL WITH GOD. 



375 



before his spirit returns to God who gave it, there 
is no redemption for him through eternal ages. 
This fact we know by the declaration and testi- 
mony of God ; in the same manner that we know 
that God will exercise mercy at all, and upon any 
conditions whatever. We have seen that we cannot 
establish the fact that the Deity will forgive sin, 
by any a priori reasoning, but know it only because 
He has spoken a word to this effect, and given the 
world His promise to be gracious and merciful. 
In like manner, we do not establish the fact that 
there will be no second oner of forgiveness, in the 
future world, by any process of reasoning from the 
nature of the case, or the necessity of things. We 
are willing to concede to the objector, that for 
aught that we can see the Holy Ghost is as able to 
take of the things of Christ, and show them to a 
guilty soul, in the next world, as He is in this. 
So far as almighty power is concerned, the Divine 
Spirit could conviuce men of sin, and righteousness, 
and judgment, and incline them to repentance and 
faith, in eternity as well as in time. And it is 
equally true, that the Divine Spirit could have 
prevented the origin of sin itself, and the fall of 
Adam, with the untold woes that proceed there- 
from. But it is not a question of power. It is a 
question of intention, of determination, and of testi- 
mony upon the part of God. And He has dis- 
tinctly declared in the written Revelation, that, it 
is His intention to limit the converting and savins 



376 



THE EXEECISE OF MERCY 



influences of His Spirit to time and earth. He tells 
the whole world unequivocally, that His spirit shall 
not always strive with man, and that the day of 
judgment which occurs at the end of this Dispensa- 
tion of grace, is not a day of pardon but of doom. 
Christ's description of the scenes that will close up 
this Redemptive Economy, — the throne, the opened 
boohs, the sheep on the right hand and the goats 
on the left hand, the words of the Judge : u Come 
ye blessed, depart ye cursed," — proves beyond con- 
troversy that " now is the accepted time, and now 
is the day of salvation." The utterance of our Re- 
deeming God, by His servant David, is: "To-day 
if ye will hear His voice harden not your hearts." 
St. Paul, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, informs the 
world, that as God sware that those Israelites who 
did not believe and obey His servant Moses, during 
their wanderings in the desert, should not enter the 
earthly Canaan, so those, in any age and generation 
of men, who do not believe and obey His Son Jesus 
Christ, during their earthly pilgrimage, shall, by 
the same Divine oath, be shut out of the eternal 
rest that remaineth for the people of God (Hebrews 
iii. 7-19). Unbelieving men, in eternity, will be 
deprived of the benefits of Christ's redemption, by 
the oath, the solemn decision, the judicial determi- 
nation of God. For, this exercise of mercy, of 
which we are speaking, is not a matter of course, 
and of necessity, and which therefore continues for- 
ever and forever. It is optional. God is entirely 



OPTIONAL WITH GOD. 



at liberty to pardon, or not to pardon. And He 
is entirely at liberty to say when, and how, and 
liow long the offer of pardon shall be extended. He 
had the power to carry the whole body of the peo- 
ple of Israel over Jordan, into the promised land, 
but He sware that those who proved refractory, 
and disobedient, during a certain definite period of 
time, should never enter Canaan. And, by His 
apostle, He informs all the generations of men, that 
the same principle will govern Him in respect to 
the entrance into the heavenly Canaan. The limit- 
ing of the offer of salvation to this life is not 
founded upon any necessity in the Divine Nature, 
but, like the offer of salvation itself, depends upon 
the sovereign pleasure and determination of God. 
That pleasure, and that determination, have been 
distinctly made known in the Scriptures. We know 
as clearly as we know anything revealed in the Bi- 
ble, that God has decided to pardon here in time, 
and not to pardon in eternity. He has drawn a 
line between the present period, during which He 
makes salvation possible to man, and the future pe- 
riod, when He will not make it possible. And He 
had a right to draw that line, because mercy from 
first to last is the optional, and not the obligated 
agency of the Supreme Being. 

Therefore, fear lest, a promise being left us of 
entering into His rest, any of you should seem to 
come short of it. For unto you is the gospel 
preached, as well as unto those Israelites ; but the 



378 



THE EXEKCISE OF MERCY. 



word did not profit them, not being mixed with 
faith in them that heard it. Neither will ifc profit 
yon, nnless it is mixed with faith. God limit eth a 
certain day, saying in David, " To-day, after so long 
a time," — after these many years of hearing and ne- 
glecting the offer of forgiveness, — " to-day, if ye will 
hear His voice, harden not your hearts." Labor, 
therefore, now, to enter into that rest, lest any man 
fall, after the same example of unbelief, with those 
Israelites whom the oath of God shut out of both 
the earthly and the heavenly Canaan. 



CHRISTIANITY REQUIRES THE TEMPER OF CHILDHOOD, 



Mark x. 15. — 14 Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the 
kingdom of God as a little child, he shah not enter therein." 



These words of our Lord are very positive and 
emphatic, and will, therefore, receive a serious atten- 
tion from every one who is anxious concerning his 
future destiny beyond the grave. For, they men- 
tion an indispensable requisite in order to an en- 
trance into eternal life. " Whosoever shall not 
receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he 
shall not enter therein." 

The occasion of their utterance is interesting, 
and brings to view a beautiful feature in the per- 
fect character of Jesus Christ. The Redeemer was 
deeply interested in every age and condition of 
man. All classes shared in His benevolent affec- 
tion, and all may equally partake of the rich bless- 
ings that now from it. But childhood and youth 
seem to have had a special attraction for Him. 
The Evangelist is careful to inform us, that He 
took little children in His arms, and that behold- 
ing an amiable young man He loved him, — a gitsh 



380 



CHRISTIANITY REQUIRES 



of feeling went out towards him. It was because 
Christ was a perfect man, as well as the infinite 
God, that such a feeling dwelt in His breast. For, 
there has never been an uncommonly fair and 
excellent human character, in which tenderness 
and affinity for childhood has not been a quality, 
and a quality, too, that was no small part of the 
fairness and excellence. The best definition that 
has yet been given of genius itself is, that it is the 
carrying of the feelings of childhood onward into 
the thoughts and aspirations of manhood. He who 
is not attracted by the ingenuousness, and trustful- 
ness, and simplicity, of the first period of human 
life, is certainly wanting in the finest and most 
delicate elements of nature, and character. Those 
who have been coarse and brutish, those who 
have been selfish and ambitious, those who have 
been the pests and scourges of the world, have 
had no sympathy with youth. Though once young 
themselves, they have been those in whom the 
gentle and generous emotions of the morning of 
life have died out. That man may become hard- 
hearted, skeptical and sensual, a hater of his kind, 
a hater of all that is holy and good, he must 
divest himself entirely of the fresh and ingenuous 
feeling of early boyhood, and receive in its place 
that malign and soured feeling which is the growth, 
and sign, of a selfish and disingenuous life. It is 
related of Voltaire, — a man in whom evil dwelt 
in its purest and most defecated essence, — that he 



THE TEMPER OF CHILDHOOD. 



381 



had no sympathy with the child, and that the 
children uniformly shrank from that sinister eye 
in which the eagle and the reptile were so strange- 
ly blended. 

Our Saviour, as a perfect man, then, possessed 
this trait, and it often showed itself in His inter- 
course with men. As an omniscient Being, He 
indeed looked with profound interest, upon the 
dawning life of the human spirit as it manifests 
itself in childhood. For He knew as no finite 
being can, the marvellous powers that sleep in the 
soul of the young child ; the great affections which 
are to be the foundation of eternal bliss, or eter- 
nal pain, that exist in embryo within ; the myste- 
rious ideas that lie in germ far down in its lowest 
depths, — He knew, as no finite creature is able, 
what is in the child, as well as in the man, and 
therefore was interested in its bein^ and its well- 
being. But besides this, by virtue of His perfect 
humanity, He was attracted by those peculiar traits 
which are seen in the earlier years of human life. 
He loved the artlessness and gentleness, the sense 
of dependence, the implicit trust, the absence of 
ostentation and ambition, the unconscious modesty, 
in one word, the child-likeness of the child. 

Knowing this characteristic of the Redeemer, 

certain parents brought their young children to 

Him, as the Evangelist informs us, a that He should 

touch them ; " either believing that there was a 

healthful virtue, connected with the touch of Him 
17* 



382 



CHRISTIANITY REQUIRES 



who healed the sick and gave life to the dead, that 
would be of benefit to them ; or, it may be, with 
more elevated conceptions of Christ's person, and 
more spiritual desires respecting the welfare of their 
offspring, believing that the blessing (which was 
symbolized by the touch and laying on of hands) of 
so exalted a Being would be of greater worth than 
mere health of body. The disciples, thinking that 
mere children were not worthy of the regards of 
their Master, rebuked the anxious and affectionate 
parents. " But," — continues the narrative, — " when 
Jesus saw it he was much displeased, and said unto 
them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, 
and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of 
God;" and then immediately explained what He 
meant by this last assertion, which is so often 
misunderstood and misapplied, by adding, in the 
words of the text, "Verily I say unto you, whoso- 
ever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little 
child" that is with a child-like spirit, " he shall not 
enter therein." For our Lord does not here lay 
down a doctrinal position, and affirm the moral 
innocence of childhood. He does not mark off and 
discriminate the children as sinless, from their pa- 
rents as sinful, as if the two classes did not belong 
to the same race of beings, and were not involved 
in the same apostasy and condemnation. He 
merely sets childhood and manhood over-against 
each other as two distinct stages of human life, 
each possessing peculiar traits and tempers, and 



THE TEMPER OF CHILDHOOD. 



383 



affirms that it is the meek spirit of childhood, and 
not the proud spirit of manhood, that welcomes 
and appropriates the Christian salvation. He is 
only contrasting the general attitude of a child, 
with the general attitude of a man. He merely 
affirms that the trustful and believing temper of 
childhood, as compared with the self-reliant and 
skeptical temper of manhood, is the temper by 
which both the child and the man are to receive 
the blessings of the gospel which both of them 
equally need. 

The kingdom of God is represented in the New 
Testament, sometimes as subjective, and sometimes 
as objective; sometimes as within the soul of man. 
and sometimes as up in the skies. Our text com- 
bines both representations ; for, it speaks of a man's 
" receiving " the kingdom of God, and of a man's 
" entering " the kingdom of God ; of the coming of 
heaven into a soul, and of the going of a soul into 
heaven. In other passages, one or the other repre- 
sentation appears alone. " The kingdom of God," 
— says our Lord to the Pharisees, — " cometh not 
with observation. Neither shall they say, Lo here, 
or lo there : for behold the kingdom of God is 
within you." The apostle Paul, upon arriving at 
Rome, invited the resident Jews to discuss the 
subject of Christianity with him. " And when 
they had appointed him a day, there came many 
to him into his lodging, to whom he expounded 
and testified the kingdom of God," — to whom. he 



384 



CHRISTIANITY requires 



explained the nature of the Christian religion,— 
"persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of . 
the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from 
morning till evening.' 1 The same apostle teaches 
the Romans, that " the kingdom of God is not 
meat and drink ; but righteousness, and peace, 
and joy in the Holy Ghost ; " and tells the Corin- 
thians, that "the kingdom of God is not in word, 
but in power." In all these instances, the subject- 
ive signification prevails, and the kingdom of God 
is simply a system of truth, or a state of the heart. 
And all are familiar with the sentiment, that 
heaven is a state, as well as a place. All under- 
stand that one half of heaven is in the human 
heart itself ; and, that if this half be wanting, the 
other half is useless, — as the half of a thing gener- 
ally is. Isaac Walton remarks of the devout 
Sibbs : 

" Of this blest man, let this just praise be given, 
Heaven was in him, before he was in heaven." 

It is only because that in the eternal world the 
imperfect righteousness of the renewed man is per- 
fected, and the peace of the anxious soul becomes 
total, and the joy that is so rare and faint in the 
Christian experience here upon earth becomes the 
very element of life and action, — it is only because 
eternity completes the excellence of the Christian 
(but does not begin it), that heaven, as a place of 
perfect holiness and happiness, is said to be in the 



THE TEMPER OF CHILDHOOD. 



885 



future life, and we are commanded to seek a better 
country even a heavenly. But, because this is so, 
let no one lose sight o the other side of the great 
truth, and forget that man must " receive " the king- 
dom as well as " enter " it. "Without the right 
state of heart, without the mental correspondent to 
heaven, that beautiful and happy region on high 
will, like any and every other place, be a hell, in- 
stead of a paradise. 1 A distinguished writer rep- 
resents one of his characters as leaving the Old 
World, and seeking happiness in the New, suppos- 
ing that change of place and outward circumstances 
could cure a restless mind. He found no rest by 
the change ; and in view of his disappointment 
says: "I will return, and in my ancestral home, 
amid my paternal fields, among my own people, I 
will say, Here, or nowhere, is America." 2 In like 
manner, must the Christian seek happiness in pres- 
ent peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, and must here 
in this life strive after the righteousness that brings 

o o 

tranquillity. Though he may look forward with as- 
piration to the new heavens and the new earth 
wherein dwell eth a perfected righteousness, yet he 



1 " Concerning the object of fe- essary to our satisfying fruition, 

licity in heaven, we are agreed that without this we are no more 

that it can be no other than the capable thereof, than a brute of 

blessed God himself, the all-corn- the festivities of a quaint oration, 

prehending good, fully adequate or a stone of the relishes of the 

to the highest and most enlarged most pleasant meats and drinks." 

reasonable desires. But the con- Howe : Heaven a State of Perfec- 

temperation of our faculties to tion. 
the holy, blissful object, is so nec- 

2 Goethe: Wilhelm Meister, Book VII., ch. iii. 



386 



CHRISTIANITY REQUIRES 



must remember that his holiness and happiness 
there is merely an expansion of his holiness and hap- 
piness here. He must seek to "receive'' the king- 
dom of God, as well as to "enter" it; and when 
tempted to relax his efforts, and to let down his 
watch, because the future life will not oppose so 
many obstacles to spirituality as this, and will bring 
a more perfect enjoyment with it, he should say to 
himself : " Be holy now, be happy here. Here, or 
nowhere, is heaven." 

Such being the nature of the kingdom of God, 
we are now brought up to the discussion of the sub- 
ject of the text, and are prepared to consider: In 
what respects, the hingdom of God requires the tern* 
per of a child as distinguished from the temper of a 
man, in order to receive it, and in order to enter it. 

The kingdom of God, considered as a kingdom 
that is within the soul, is tantamount to religion. 
To receive this kingdom, then, is equivalent to re- 
ceiving religion into the heart, so that the character 
shall be formed by it, and the future destiny be de- 
cided by it. What, then, is the religion that is to 
be received ? We answer that it is the religion 
that is needed. But, the religion that is needed by 
a sinful man is verv different from the religion that 
is adapted to a holy angel. He who has never 
sinned is already in direct and blessed relations 
with God, and needs only to drink in the overflow- 
ing and everflowing stream of purity and pleasure. 
Such a spirit requires a religion of only two doc- 



THE TEMPER OF CHILDHOOD. 



387 



trines : First, that there is a God ; and, secondly, 
that He ought to be loved supremely and obeyed 
perfectly. This is the entire theology of the angels, 
and it is enough for them. They know nothing of 
sin in their personal experience, and consequently 
they require in their religion, none of those doc- 
trines, and none of those provisions, which are 
adapted to the needs of sinners. 

But, man is in an altogether different condition 
from this. He too knows that there is a God, and 
that He ought to be loved supremely, and obeyed 
perfectly. Thus far, he goes along with the angel, 
and with every other rational being made under the 
law and government of God. But, at this point, 
his path diverges from that of the pure and obedi- 
ent inhabitant of heaven, and leads in an opposite 
direction. For he does not, like the angels, act up 
to his knowledge. He is not conformed to these 
two doctrines. He does not love God supremely, 
and he does not obey Him perfectly. This fact 
puts him into a very different position, in reference 
to these two doctrines, from that occupied by the 
obedient and unfallen spirit. These two doctrines, 
in relation to him as one who has contravened them, 
have become a power of condemnation ; and when- 
ever he thinks of them he feels guilty. It is no 
longer sufficient to tell him that religion consists in 
loving God, and enjoying His presence, — consists in 
holiness and happiness. " This is very true," — he 
says,—" but I am neither holy nor happy." It is no 



388 



CHEISTIAKITY REQUIRES 



longer enough to remind him that all is well with 
any creature who loves God with all his heart, and 
keeps His commandments without a single slip or 
failure. " This is very true," — he says again, — 
u but I do not love in this style, neither have I 
obeyed in this manner.' 1 It is too late to preach 
mere natural religion, the religion of the angels, to 
one who has failed to stand fully and firmly upon 
the principles of natural religion. It is too late to 
tell a creature who has lost his virtue, that if he is 
only virtuous he is safe enough. 

The religion, then, that a sinner needs, cannot be 
limited to the two doctrines of the holiness of God, 
and the creature's obligation to love and serve Him, 
■ — cannot be pared down to the precept : Fear God 
and practise virtue. It must be greatly enlarged, 
and augmented, by the introduction of that other 
class of truths which relate to the Divine mercy 
towards those who have not feared God, and the 
Divine method of salvation for those who are sinful. 
In other words, the religion for a transgressor is re- 
vealed religion, or the religion of Atonement and 
Redemption. 

What, now, is there in this species of religion 
that necessitates the meek and docile temper of a 
child, as distinguished from the proud and self-reli- 
ant spirit of a man, in order to its reception into the 
heart ? 

I. In the first place, the New Testament religion 
offers the forgiveness of sins, and provides for it 



THE TEMPER OF CHILDHOOD. 



No one can ponder this fact an instant, without 
perceiving that the pride and self-reliance of man- 
hood are excluded, and that the meekness and im- 
plicit trust of childhood are demanded. Pardon and 
justification before God must, from the nature of the 
case, be a gift, and a gift cannot be obtained unless 
it is accepted as such. To demand or claim mercy, 
is self-contradictory. For, a claim implies a personal 
ground for it ; and this implies self-reliance, and this 
is " manhood " in distinction from " childhood." 
In coming, therefore, as the religion of the Cross 
does, before man with a gratuity, with an offer to 
pardon his sins, it supposes that he take a correspon- 
dent attitude. Were he sinless, the religion suited 
to him would be the mere utterance of law, and he 
might stand up before it with the serene brow of an 
obedient subject of the Divine government ; though 
even then, not with a proud and boastful temper. It 
would be out of place for him, to plead guilty when 
he was innocent ; or to cast himself upon mercy, 
when he could appeal to justice. If the creature's 
acceptance be of works, then it is no more of grace, 
otherwise work is no more work. But if it be by 
grace, then it is no more of works (Eom. xi. 6). 
If the very first feature of the Christian religion is 
the exhibition of clemency, then the proper and nec- 
essary attitude of one who receives it is that of hu- 
mility. 

But, leaving this argument drawn from the char- 
acteristics of Christianity as a religion of Redenip- 



390 



CHRISTIANITY REQUIRES 



tion, let us pass into the soul of man, and see what 
we are taught there, respecting the temper which 
he must possess in order to receive this new, re- 
vealed kingdom of God. The soul of man is guilty. 
Now, there is something in the very nature of guilt 
that excludes the proud, self-conscious, self-reliant 
spirit of manhood, and necessitates the lowly, and 
dependent spirit of childhood. When conscience 
is full of remorse, and the holy eye of law is search- 
ing us, and fears of eternal banishment and punish- 
ment are racking the spirit, there is no remedy but 
simple confession, and childlike reliance upon abso- 
lute mercy. The sinner must be a softened child 
and not a hard man, he must beg a boon and not 
put in a claim, if he would receive this kingdom of 
God, this New Testament religion, into his soul. 
The slightest inclination to self-righteousness, the 
least degree of resistance to the just pressure of law, 
is a vitiating element in repentance. The muscles 
of the stout man must give way, the knees must 
bend, the hands must be uplifted deprecatingly, the 
eyes must gaze with a straining gaze upon the ex- 
piating Cross, — in other words, the least and last 
remains of a stout and self-asserting spirit must 
vanish, and the whole being must be pliant, bruised, 
broken, helpless in its state and condition, in order 
to a pure sense of guilt, a godly sorrow for sin, and 
a cordial appropriation of the atonement. The at- 
tempt to mix the two tempers, to mingle the child 
with the man, to confess sin and assert self-righteous- 



THE TEMPER OF CHILDHOOD. 



391 



ness, must be an entire failure, and totally prevent 
the reception of the religion of Redemption. In 
relation to the Redeemer, the sinful soul should be 
a vacuum, a hollow void, destitute of everything 
holy and good, conscious that it is, and aching to 
be tilled with the fulness of His peace and purity. 

And with reference to God, the Being whose func- 
tion it is to pardon, we see the same necessity for 
this child-like spirit in the transgressor. How can 
God administer forgiveness, unless there is a correla- 
ted temper to receive it % His particular declara- 
tive act in blotting out sin depends upon the exist- 
ence of penitence for sin. Where there is absolute 
hardness of heart, there can be no pardon, from the 
very nature of the case, and the very terms of the 
statement. Can God say to the hardened Judas : 
Son be of good cheer, thy sin is forgiven thee % 
Can He speak to the traitor as He speaks to the 
Magdalen \ The difficulty is not upon the side of 
God. The Divine pity never lags behind any gen- 
uine human sorrow. No man was ever more eao-er 
to be forgiven than his Redeemer is to forgive him. 
No contrition for sin, upon the part of man, ever 
yet outran the readiness and delight of God. to rec- 
ognize it, and meet it with a free pardon. For, that 
very contrition itself is always the product of Divine 
grace, and proves that God is in advance of the 
soul. The father in the parable saw the son while 
he was a great way off, before the son saw him, and 
ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. But while 



392 



CHRISTIANITY EEQUIEES 



this is so, and is an encouragement to the penitent, 
it must ever be remembered that unless there is 
some genuine sorrow in the human soul, there can 
be no manifestation of the Divine forgiveness with- 
in it. Man cannot beat the air, and God cannot 
forgive irnpenitency. 

II. In the second place, the New Testament relig- 
ion proposes to create within man a clean heart, and 
to renew ivithin him a -right spirit. Christianity not 
only pardons but sanctifies the human soul. And 
in accomplishing this latter work, it requires the 
same humble and docile temper that was demanded 
in the former instance. 

Holiness, even in an unfallen angel, is not an ab- 
solutely self-originated thing. If it were, the angel 
would be worthy of adoration and worship. He 
who is inwardly and totally excellent, and can also 
say : I am what I am by my own ultimate author- 
ship, can claim for himself the glory that is due to 
righteousness. Any self-originated and self subsist- 
ent virtue is entitled to the hallelujahs. But, no 
created spirit, though he be the highest of the arch- 
angels, can make such an assertion, or put in such a 
claim. The merit of the unfallen angel, therefore, 
is a relative one ; because his holiness is of a created 
and derived species. It is not increate and self-sub- 
sistent. This being so, it is plain that the proper 
attitude of all creatures in respect to moral excel- 
lence is a recipient and dependent one. But this 
is a meek and lowly attitude ; and this is, in one 



THE TEMPER OF CHILDHOOD. 



393 



sense, a child-like" attitude. Our Lord knew no sin ; 
and yet He himself tells us that He was meek and 
lowly of heart, and we well know that He was. 
He does not say that He was penitent. He does 
not propose himself as our exemplar in that respect. 
But, in respect to the primal, normal attitude which 
a finite being; must ever take in reference to the infi- 
nite and adorable God, and the absolute underived 
Holiness ; in reference to the true temper which a 
holy man or a holy angel must possess ; our Lord 
Jesus Christ, in His human capacity, sets an exam- 
ple to be followed by the spirits of just men made 
perfect, and by all the holy inhabitants of heaven. 
In other words, He teaches the whole universe that 
holiness in a creature, even though it be complete, 
does not permit its possessor to be self-reliant, does 
not allow the proud spirit of manhood, does not 
remove the obligation to be child-like, meek, and 
lowly of heart. 

But if this is true of holiness among those who 
have never fallen, how much more true is it of those 
who have, and who need to be lifted up out of the 
abyss. If an angel, in reference to God, must be 
meek and lowly of heart; if the holy Redeemer 
must in His human capacity be meek and lowly of 
heart ; if the child-like temper, in reference to the 
infinite and everlasting Father and the absolutely 
Good, is the proper one in such exalted instances 
as these; how much more is it in the instance of 
the vile and apostate children of Adam ! Besides 



394 



CHRISTIANITY REQUIRES 



the original and primitive reason growing out of 
creaturely relationships, there is the superadded one 
growing out of the fact, that now the whole head 
is sick and the whole heart is faint, and from the 
sole of the foot even unto the head there is no 
soundness in human nature. 

Hence, our Lord began His Sermon on the 
Mount in these words : " Blessed are the poor in 
spirit ; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Bless- 
ed are they that mourn; for they shall be com- 
forted. Blessed are the meek ; for they shall in- 
herit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger 
and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be 
fUled." 1 The very opening of this discourse, which 
He intended should go down through the ages as 
a manifesto declaring the real nature of His kino- 
dom, and the spirit which His followers must pos- 
sess, asserts the necessity of a needy, recipient, 
asking mind, upon the part of a sinner. All 
this phraseology implies destitution ; and a des- 
titution that cannot be self-supplied. He who 
hungers and thirsts after righteousness is con- 
scious of an inward void, in respect to right- 
eousness, that must be filled from abroad. He 
w r ho is meek is sensible that he is dependent for 
his moral excellence. He who is poor in spirit 
is, not pusillanimous as Thomas Paine charged 
upon Christianity but, as John of Damascus sail 



1 Compare Isaiah lzi. 1. 



THE TEMPER OF CHILDHOOD. 



395 



of himself, a man of spiritual cravings, vir deside- 
riorum. 

Now, all this delineation of the general attitude 
requisite in order to the reception of the Christian 
religion is summed up again, in the declaration of 
our text : " Whosoever shall not receive the king- 
dom of God as a little child, lie shall not enter 
therein." Is a man, then, sensible that his under- 
standing is darkened by sin, and that he is desti- 
tute of clear and just apprehensions of divine 
things ? Does his consciousness of inward poverty- 
assume this form ? If he would be delivered from 
his mental blindness, and be made rich in spiritual 
knowledge, he must adopt a teachable and recip- 
ient attitude. He must not assume that his own 
mind is the great fountain of wisdom, and seek to 
clear up his doubts and darkness by the rational- 
istic method of self-illumination. On the contrary, 
he must go beyond his mind and open a hook, even 
the book of -Revelation, and search for the wisdom 
it contains and proffers. And yet more than this. 
As this volume is the product of the Eternal Spirit 
himself, and this Spirit conspires with the doc- 
trines which He has revealed, and exerts a posi- 
tive illuminating influence, he must seek commu- 
nion therewith. Fioni first to last, therefore, the 
darkened human spirit must take a waiting posture, 
in order to enlightenment. That part of " the 
clean heart and the right spirit" which consists 
in the hioivle lge of divine things can be obtained 



396 



CHRISTIANITY REQUIRES 



only through a child-like bearing and temper. 
This is what our Lord means, when He pronounces 
a blessing upon the poor in spirit, the hungry and 
the thirsting soul. Men, in their pride and self- 
reliance, in their sense of manhood, may seek to 
enter the kingdom of heaven by a different method ; 
they may attempt to speculate their way through 
all the mystery that overhangs human life, and the 
doubts that confuse and baffle the human under- 
standing ; but when they find that the unaided 
intellect only " spets a thicker gloom " instead of 
pouring a serener ray, wearied and worn they re- 
turn, as it were, to the sweet days of childhood, and 
in the gentleness, and tenderness, and docility of 
I an altered mood, learn, as Bacon did in respect to 
the kingdom of nature, that the kingdom of heaven 
is open only to the little child. 

Again, is a man conscious of the corruption of 
his heart \ Has he discovered his alienation from 
the life and love of God, and is he now aware that 
a total change must pass upon him, or that alien- 
ation must be everlasting ? Has he found out 
that his inclinations, and feelings, and tastes, and 
sympathies are so worldly, so averse from spiritual 
objects, as to be beyond his sovereignty ? Does he 
feel vividly that the attempt to expel this carnal 
mind, and to induce in the place thereof the heav- 
enly spontaneous glow of piety towards God and 
man, is precisely like the attempt of the Ethiopian 
to change his skin, and the leopard his spots ? 



THE TEMPER OF CHILDHOOD. 397 

If this experience has been forced upon him, shall 
he meet it with the port and bearing of a strong 
man ? Shall he take the attitude of the old Roman 
stoic, and attempt to meet the exigencies of his 
moral condition, by the steady strain and hard tug 
of his own force % He cannot long do this, under 
the clear searching ethics of the Sermon on the 
Mount, without an inexpressible weariness and a 
profound despair. Were he within the sphere of 
paganism, it might, perhaps, be otherwise. A 
Marcus Aurelius could maintain this legal and self- 
righteous position to the end of life, because his 
ideal of virtue was a very low one. Had that high- 
minded pagan felt the influences of Christian ethics, 
had the Sermon on the Mount searched his soul, 
telling him that the least emotion of pride, anger, or 
lust, was a breach of that everlasting law which 
stood grand and venerable before his philosophic 
eye, and that his virtue was all gone, and his soul 
was exposed to the inflictions of justice, if even a 
single thought of his heart was unconformed to the 
perfect rule of right, — if, instead of the mere twi- 
light of natural religion, there had flared into his 
mind the fierce and consuming splendor of the noon- 
day sun of revealed truth, and New Testament 
ethics, it would have been impossible for that seri- 
ous-minded emperor to say, as in his utter self-delu- 
sion he did, to the Deity : " Give me my dues," — in- 
stead of breathing the prayer : " Forgive me my 
debts." Christianity elevates the standard and 

18 



398 



CHRISTIANITY REQUIRES 



raises the ideal of moral excellence, and thereby 
disturbs the self-complacent feeling of the stoic, and 
the moralist. If the law and rale of right is merely 
an outward one, it is possible for a man sincerely 
to suppose that he has kept the law, and his sin- 
cerity will be his ruin. For, in this case, he can 
maintain a self-reliant and a self-satisfied spirit, the 
spirit of manhood, to the very end of his earthly 
career, and go with his righteousness which is as 
filthy rags, into the presence of Him in whose sight 
the heavens are not clean. But, if the law and rule 
of right is seen to be an inward and spiritual statute, 
piercing to the dividing asunder of the soul and 
spirit, and becoming a discerner of the thoughts 
and intents of the heart, it is not possible for a can- 
did man to delude himself into the belief that he 
has perfectly obeyed, it ; and in this instance, that 
self-dissatisfied spirit, that consciousness of internal 
schism and bondage, that war between the flesh and 
the spirit so vividly portrayed in the seventh chap- 
ter of Romans, begins, and instead of the utterance 
of the moralist : " I have kept the everlasting law, 
give me my dues," there bursts forth the self-des- 
pairing cry of the penitent and the child: "O 
wretched man that I am ! who shall deliver me? 
Father I have sinned against heaven and before 
thee." 

When, therefore, the truth and Spirit of God 
working in and with the natural conscience, have 
brought a man to that point where he sees that all 



THE TEMPEE OF CHILDHOOD. 



399 



his own righteousness is as filthy rags, and that the 
pure and stainless righteousness of Jehovah must 
become the possession and the characteristic of his 
soul, he is prepared to believe the declaration of 
our text : u Whosoever shall not receive the king- 
dom of God as a little child, he shall not enter there- 
in." The new heart, and the right spirit, — the 
change, not in the mere external behavior but, in the 
very disposition and inclination of the soul, — ex- 
cludes every jot and tittle of self-assertion, every 
particle of proud and stoical manhood. 

Such a text as this which we have been consider- 
ing is well adapted to put us upon the true method 
of attaining everlasting life. These few and simple 
words actually dropped, eighteen hundred years ago, 
from the lips of that august Being who is now seat- 
ed upon the throne of heaven, and who knows this 
very instant the effect which they are producing in 
the heart of every one who either reads or hears 
them. Let us remember that these few and simple 
words do verily contain the key to everlasting life 
and glory. In knowing what they mean, we know, 
infallibly, the way to heaven. "I tell you, that 
many prophets and kings have desired to see those 
things which we see, and have not seen them : and 
to hear those things which we hear, and have not 
heard them." How many a thoughtful pagan, in 
the centuries that have passed and gone, would in 
all probability have turned a most attentive ear, 
had he heard, as we do, from the lips of an unerring 



400 CHRISTIANITY AND CHILDHOOD. 



Teacher, that a child-like reception of a certain par* 
ticular truth, — and that not recondite and metaphys- 
ical, but simple as childhood itself, and to be received 
by a little child's act, — would infallibly conduct to 
the elysium that haunted and tantalized him. 

That which hinders us is our pride, our " man- 
hood.' 7 The act of faith is a child's act ; and a 
child's act, though intrinsically the easiest of any, is 
relatively the most difficult of all. It implies the 
surrender of our self-will, our self-love, our proud 
manhood; and never was a truer remark made than 
that of Ullmann, that u in no one thing is the strength 
of a man's will so manifested, as in his having no 
will of his own." 1 " Christianity," — says Jeremy 
Taylor, — " is the easiest and the hardest thing in 
the world. It is like a secret in arithmetic ; infi- 
nitely hard till it be found out by a right operation, 
and then it is so plain we wonder we did not under- 
stand it earlier." How hard, how impossible with- 
out that Divine grace which makes all such central 
and revolutionary acts easy and genial to the soul, 
— how hard it is to cease from our own works, and 
really become docile and recipient children, believ- 
ing on the Lord Jesus Christ, and trusting in Him, 
simply and solely, for salvation. 

1 Ullmann : Sinlessness of Jesus, Pt. I., Ch. iii., § 2. 



FAITH THE SOLE SAVING ACT. 



Johx vi. 28, 29. — " Then said they unto him, "What shall we do, that we 
might work the works of God ? Jesus answered and said unto them, 
This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." 



In asking their question, the Jews intended to 
inquire of Christ what particular things they must 
do, before all others, in order to please God. The 
u works of God," as they denominate them, were not 
any and every duty, but those more special and im- 
portant acts, by which the creature might secure 
the Divine approval and favor. Our Lord under- 
stood their question in this sense, and in His reply 
tells them, that the great and only work for them 
to do was to exercise faith in Him. They had em- 
ployed the plural number in their question ; but in 
His answer He employs the singular. They had 
asked, " What shall we do that we might work the 
ivories of God, — as if there were several of them. 
His reply is, " This is the work of God, that ye be- 
lieve on Him whom He hath sent." He narrows 
down the terms of salvation to a single one ; and 
makes the destiny of the soul to depend upon the 



402 FAITH THE SOLE SAYING ACT. 



performance of a particular individual act. In this, 
as in many other incidental ways, our Lord teaches 
His own divinity. If He were a mere creature ; if 
He were only an inspired teacher like David or 
Paul ; how would He dare, when asked to give in 
a single word the condition and means of human 
salvation, to say that they consist in resting the 
soul upon Him \ Would David have dared to say: 
"This is the work of God, — this is the saving act, 
— that ye believe in me ? " Would Paul have pre- 
sumed to say to the anxious inquirer : u Your soul is 
safe, if you trust in me ? " But Christ makes 
this declaration, without any qualification. Yet 
He was meek and lowly of heart, and never assumed 
an honor or a prerogative that did not belong to Him. 
It is only upon the supposition that He was " very 
God of very God," the Divine Redeemer of the chil- 
dren of men, that we can justify such an answer to 
such a question. 

The belief is spontaneous and natural to man, 
that something must be done in order to salvation. 
No man expects to reach heaven by inaction. Even 
the indifferent and supine soul expects to rouse it- 
self up at some future time, and work out its salva- 
tion. The most thoughtless and inactive man, in 
religious respects, will acknowledge that thought- 
lessness and inactivity if continued will end in per- 
dirion. But he intends at a future day to think, 
and act, and be saved. So natural is it, to every 
man, to believe in salvation by works ; so ready is 



FAITH THE SOLE SAVING ACT. 



403 



every one to concede that heaven is reached, and 
hell is escaped, only by an earnest effort of some 
kind ; so natural is it to every man to ask with 
these Jews, " What shall we do, that we may work 
the works of God \ " 

But mankind generally, like the Jews in the days 
of our Lord, are under a delusion respecting the 
nature of the work which must be performed in or- 
der to salvation. And in order to understand this 
delusion, we must first examine the common notion 
upon the subject. 

When a man begins to think of God, and of his 
own relations to Him, he finds that he owes Him 
service and obedience. He has a work to perform, 
as a subject of the Divine government ; and this 
work is to obey the Divine law. He finds himself 
obligated to love God with all his heart, and his 
neighbor as himself, and to discharge all the duties 
that spring out of his relations to Gocl and man. 
He perceives that this is the u work " given him to 
do by creation, and that if he does it he will attain 
the true end of his existence, and be happy in time 
and eternity. When therefore he begins to think 
of a religious life, his first spontaneous impulse is 
to begin the performance of this work which he has 
hitherto neglected, and to reinstate himself in the 
Divine favor by the ordinary method of keeping 
the law of God. He perceives that this is the mode 
in which the angels preserve themselves holy and 
happy ; that this is the original mode appointed by 



404 FAITH THE SOLE SAYING ACT. 



God, when He established the covenant of works ; 
and he does not see why it is not the method for 
hiin. The law expressly affirms that the man that 
doeth these things shall live by them ; he proposes 
to take the law just as it reads, and just as it stands, 
— to do the deeds of the law, to perform the works 
which it enjoins, and to live by the service. This 
we say, is the common notion, natural to man, of 
the species of work which must be performed in or- 
der to eternal life. This was the idea which filled 
the mind of the Jews when they put the question 
of the text, and received for answer from Christ, 
" This is the work of God, that ye believe on him 
whom he hath sent." Our Lord does not draw out 
the whole truth, in detail. He gives only the posi- 
tive part of the answer, leaving His hearers to infer 
the negative part of it. For the whole doctrine of 
Christ, fully stated, would run thus: " No work of 
the hind of which you are thinking can save you ; 
no obedience of the law, ceremonial or moral, can 
reinstate you in right relations to God. I do not 
summon you to the performance of any such service 
as that which you have in mind, in order to your 
justification and acceptance before the Divine tribu- 
nal. This is the work of God, — this is the sole and 
single act which you are to perform, — namely, that 
you believe on Him whom He hath sent as a pro- 
pitiation for sin. I do not summon you to works 
of the law, but to faith in Me the Redeemer. Your 
first duty is not to attempt to acquire a righteous- 



FAITH THE SOLE SAVLNG ACT. 



405 



ness in the old method, by doing something of 
yourselves, but to receive a righteousness in the new 
method, by trusting in what another has done for 
you." 

I. What is the ground and reason of such an an- 
swer as this ? Why is man invited to the method 
of faith in another, instead of the method of faith in 
himself? Why is not his first spontaneous thought 
the true one ? Why should he not obtain eternal 
life by resolutely proceeding to do his duty, and 
keeping the law of God \ Why can he not be saved 
by the law of works ? Why is he so summarily 
shut up to the law of faith ? 

We answer: Because it is too late for him to 
adopt the method of salvation by works. The law 
is indeed explicit in its assertion, that the man that 
doeth these things shall live by them ; but then it 
supposes that the man begin at the beginning. A 
subject of government cannot disobey a civil statute 
for five or ten years, and then put himself in right 
relations to it again, by obeying it for the remain- 
der of his life. Can a man who has been a thief or 
an adulterer for twenty years, and then practises 
honesty and purity for the following thirty years, 
stand up before the seventh and eighth command- 
ments and be acquitted by them \ It is too late 
for any being who has violated a law even in a sin- 
gle instance, to attempt to be justified by that law. 
For, the law demands and supposes that obedience 
begin at the very beginning of existence, and *con- 

18* 



406 



FAITH THE SOLE SAVING ACT. 



tinue down uninterruptedly to the end of it. No 
man can come in at the middle of a process of obe- 
dience, any more than he can come in at the last 
end of it, if he proposes to be accepted upon the 
ground of obedience. " I testify," says St. Paul, " to 
every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor 
to do the whole law " (Gal. v. 3). The whole, or 
none, is the just and inexorable rule which law lays 
down in the matter of justification. If any subject 
of the Divine government can show a clean record, 
from the beginning to the end of his existence, the 
statute says to him, " Well done," and gives him the 
reward which he has earned. And it gives it to 
him not as a matter of grace, but of debt. The law 
never makes a present of wages. It never pays 
out wages, until they are earned, — fairly and fully 
earned. But when a perfect obedience from first 
to last is rendered to its claims, the compensation 
follows as matter of debt. The law, in this instance, 

is itself brought under obligation. It owes a re- 
ts o 

ward to the perfectly obedient subject of law, and 
it considers itself his debtor until it is paid. " Now 
to him that worketh, is the reward not reckoned of 
grace, but of debt. If it be of works, then it is no 
more grace : otherwise work is no more work " 
(Rom. iv. 4 ; xi. 6). 

But, on the other hand, law is equally exact and 
inflexible, in case the work has not been performed. 
It will not give eternal life to a soul that has sin- 
ned ten years, and then perfectly obeyed ten years, 



FAITH THE SOLE SAVING ACT. 407 



— supposing that there is any such soul. The obe- 
dience, as we have remarked, must run parallel with 
the entire existence, in order to be a ground of jus- 
tification. Infancy, childhood, youth, manhood, old 
age, and then the whole immortality that succeeds, 
must all be unintermittently sinless and holy, in 
order to make eternal life a matter of debt. Jus- 
tice is as exact and punctilious upon this side, as it 
is upon the other. We have seen, that when a 
perfect obedience has been rendered, justice will 
not palm off the wages that are due as if they were 
some gracious gift ; and on the other hand, when a 
perfect obedience has not been rendered, it will not 
be cajoled into the bestowment of wages as if they 
had been earned. There is no principle that is so 
intelligent, so upright, and so exact, as justice; and 
no creature can expect either to warp it, or to cir- 
cumvent it. 

In the light of these remarks, it is evident that it 
is too late for a sinner to avail himself of the method 
of salvation by works. For, that method requires 
that sinless obedience begin at the beginning of his 
existence, and never be interrupted. But no man 
thus begins, and no man thus continues. " The wick- 
ed are estranged from the womb ; they go astray 
as soon as they be born, speaking lies " (Ps. lviii. 
3). Man comes into the world a sinful and alien- 
ated creature. He is by nature a child of wrath. 
(Eph. ii. 3). Instead of beginning life with holi- 
ness, he begins it with sin. His heart at birth is 



408 



FAITH THE SOLE SAVING ACT. 



apostate and corrupt; and his conduct from the 
very first is contrary to law. Such is the teaching 
of Scripture, such is the statement of the Creeds, 
and such is the testimony of consciousness, respect- 
ing the character which man "brings into the world 
with him. The very dawn of human life is cloud- 
ed with depravity ; is marked by the carnal mind 
which is at enmity with the law of God, and is not 
subject to that law, neither indeed can be. How 
is it possible, then, for man to attain eternal life by 
a method that supposes, and requires, that the very 
dawn of his being be holy like that of Christ's, and 
that every thought, feeling, purpose, and $cfc be 
conformed to law through the entire existence % Is 
it not too late for such a creature as man now is to 
adopt the method of salvation by the works of the 
law \ 

But we will not crowd you, with the doctrine of 
native depravity and the sin in Adam. We have 
no doubt that it is the scriptural and true doctrine 
concerning human nature ; and have no fears that 
it will be contradicted by either a profound self- 
knowledge, or a profound metaphysics. But per- 
haps you are one who doubts it ; and therefore, for 
the sake of argument, we will let you set the com- 
mencement of sin where you please. If you tell us 
that it begins in the second, or the fourth, or the 
tenth year of life, it still remains true that it is too 
late to employ the method of justification by works. 
If you concede any sin at all, at any point whatso- 



FAITH THE SOLE SAVING ACT. 



409 



ever, in the history of a human soul, you preclude 
it from salvation by the deeds of the law, and shut 
it up to salvation by grace. Go back as far as you 
can in your memory, and you must acknowledge 
that you find sin as far as you go; and even if, in 
the face of Scripture and the symbols of the Church, 
you should deny that the sin runs back to birth 
and apostasy in Adam, it still remains true that 
the first years of your conscious existence were not 
years of holiness, nor the first acts which you re- 
member, acts of obedience. Even upon your own 
theory, you begin with sin, and therefore you can- 
not be justified by the law. 

This, then, is a conclusive reason and ground for 
the declaration of our Lord, that the one great work 
which every fallen man has to perform, and must 
perform, in order to salvation, is faith in another 1 8 
work, and confidence in another '«? righteousness. If 
man is to be saved by his own righteousness, that 
righteousness must begin at the very begin ning of 
his existence, and go on without interruption. If 
he is to be saved by his own good works, there nev- 
er must be a single instant in his life when he is not 
working such works. But beyond all controversy 
such is not the fact. It is, therefore, impossible for 
him to be justified by trusting in himself; and the 
only possible mode that now remains, is to trust in 
another. 

II. And this brings us to the second part of our 
subject. " This is the work of God, that ye believe 



410 



FAITH THE SOLE SAYLNG ACT. 



on him whom He hath sent." It will be observed 
that faith is here denominated a u work." And it 
is so indeed. It is a mental act; and an act of the 
most comprehensive and energetic species. Faith 
is an active principle that carries the whole man 
with it, and in it, — head and heart, will and affec- 
tions, body soul and spirit. There is no act so all- 
embracing in its reach, and so total in its momentum, 
as the act of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In this 
sense, it is a " work." It is no supine and torpid 
thing ; but the most vital and vigorous activity that 
can be conceived of. When a sinner, moved bv the 
Holy Ghost the A r ery source of spiritual life and en- 
ergy, casts himself in utter helplessness, and with 
all his weight, upon his Redeemer for salvation, 
never is he more active, and never does he do a 
greater work. 

And yet, faith is not a work in the common sig- 
nification of the word. In the Pauline Epistles, it 
is generally opposed to works, in such a way as to 
exclude them. For example : " Where is boasting 
then \ It is excluded. By what law \ of works \ 
Nay, but by the law of faith. Therefore we con- 
clude that a man is justified by faith, without the 
deeds of the law. Knowing that a man is not jus- 
tified by the works of the law but by the faith of 
Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus 
Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of 
Christ and not by the works of the law. Re- 
ceived ye the Spirit, by the works of the law, or 



FAITH THE SOLE SAVING ACT. 



411 



by the hearing of faith ? " 1 In these and other 
passages, faith and works are directly contrary to 
each other ; so that in this connection, faith is not 
a " work." Let us examine this point, a little in 
detail, for it will throw light upon the subject 
under discussion. 

In the opening of the discourse, we alluded to the 
fact that when a man's attention is directed to the 
subject of his soul's salvation, his first spontaneous 
thought is, that he must of himself render some- 
thing to God, as an offset for his sins ; that he must 
perform his duty by his own power and effort, and 
thereby acquire a personal merit before his Maker 
and Judge. The thought of appropriating another 
person's work, of making use of what another being 
has done in his stead, does not occur to him ; or if 
it does, it is repulsive to him. His thought is, that 
it is his own soul that is to be saved, and it is his 
own work that must save it. Hence, he begins to 
perform religious duties in the ordinary use of his 
own faculties, and in his own strength, for the pur- 
pose, and with the expectation, of settling the ac- 
count which he knows is unsettled between himself 
and his Judge. As yet, there is no faith in another 
Bein^. He is not trusting and resting in another 
person; but he is trusting and resting in himself. 
He is not making use of the work or services which 
another has wrought in his behalf, but he is employ- 

1 Romans iii. 27, 28 ; Galatians ii. 16, iii. 2. 



412 



FAITH THE SOLE SAVING ACT. 



ing his own powers and faculties, in performing 
these his own works, which he owes, and which, 
if paid in this style, he thinks will save his soul. 
This is the spontaneous, and it is the correct, 
idea of a u work," — of what St. Paul so often calls 
a u work of the law." And it is the exact contrary 
of faith. 

For, faith never does anything in this independ- 
ent and self-reliant manner. It does not perform a 
service in its own strength, and then hold it out to 
God as something for Him to receive, and for which 
He must pay back wages in the form of remitting 
sin and bestowing happiness. Faith is wholly oc- 
cupied with another's work, and anotlier' l s merit. 
The believing soul deserts all its own doings, and 
betakes itself to what a third person has wrought 
for it, and in its stead. When, for illustration, a 
sinner discovers that he owes a satisfaction to Eternal 
Justice for the sins that are past, if he adopts the 
method of works, he will offer up his endeavors to 
obey the law, as an offset, and a reason why he 
should be forgiven. He will say in his heart, if he 
does not in his prayer : "I am striving to atone for 
the past, by doing my duty in the future ; my reso- 
lutions, my prayers and alms-giving, all this hard 
struggle to be better and to do better, ought cer- 
tainly to avail for my pardon." Or, if he has been 
educated in a superstitious Church, he will offer 
up his penances, and mortifications, and pilgrimages, 
as a satisfaction to justice, and a reason why he 



FAITH THE SOLE SAVING ACT. 



413 



should be forgiven and made blessed forever in 
heaven. That is a very instructive anecdote which 
St. Simon relates respecting the last hours of the 
I profligate Louis XIV. " One day," — he says, — " the 
kin°: recovering from loss of consciousness asked 
his confessor, Pere Tellier, to give him absolution 
for all his sins. Pere Tellier asked him if he suffered 
much. ' No,' replied the king, 1 that's what troubles 
me. I should like to suffer more, for the expiation 
of my sins.'" Here was a poor mortal who had 
spent his days in carnality and transgression of the 
pure law of God. He is conscious of guilt, and feels 
the need of its atonement. And now, upon the 
very edge of eternity and brink of doom, he pro- 
poses to make his own atonement, to be his own re- 
deemer and save his own soul, by offering up to the 
eternal nemesis that was racking his conscience a 
few hours of finite suffering;, instead of betaking 
himself to the infinite passion and agony of Calvary. 
This is a " work ; " and, alas, a " dead work," as St. 
Paul so often denominates it. This is the method 
of justification by works. But when a man adopts 
the method of justification by faith, his course is 
exactly opposite to all this. Upon discovering that 
he owes a satisfaction to EternalJustice for the sius 
that are past, instead of holding up his prayers, or 
alms-giving, or penances, or moral efforts, or any 
work of his own, he holds up the sacrificial work 
of Christ. In his prayer to God, he interposes the 
agony and death of the Great Substitute between 



414 



FAITH THE SOLE SAVING ACT. 



Lis guilty soul, and the arrows of justice. 1 He 
knows that the very best of his own works, that 
even the most perfect obedience that a creature 
could render, would be pierced through and through 



1 The religions teacher is often 
asked to define the act of faith, 
and explain the way and manner 
in which the soul is to exercise 
it. "-How shall I believe?" is 
the question with which the anx- 
ious mind often replies to the gos- 
pel injunction to believe. With- 
out pretending that it is a com- 
plete answer, or claiming that it is 
possible, in the strict meaning of 
the word, to explain so simple 
and so profound an act as faith, 
we think, nevertheless, that it 
issists the inquiring mind to say, 
u hat whoever asks in prayer for 
any one of the benefits of Christ's 
redemption, in so far exercises 
faith in this redemption. Who- 
ever, for example, lifts up the 
supplication, li O Lamb of God 
who takest away the sins of the 
world, grant me thy peace," in 
this prayer puts faith in the atone- 
ment. He trusts in the atone- 
ment, by pleading the atonement, 
— by mentioning it, in his suppli- 
cation, as the reason why he may 
oe forgiven. In like manner, he 
who asks for the renewing and 
sanctifying influences of the Holy 
Ghost exercises faith in these in- 
^uences. This is the mode in 
which he expresses his confidence 
in the power of God to accom- 
plish a work in his heart that is 
beyond his own power. What- 
ever, therefore, br> the particular 
benefit in Christ's redemption 
that one would trust in, and there- 
by make personally his own, that 
he may live by it and be blest by 
it, — be it the atoning blood, or be 
it the in dwelling Spirit, — let him 



aslc for that benefit. If he would 
trust in the thing, let him ask for 
the thing. 

Since writing the above, we 
have met with a corroboration of 
this view, by a writer of the high- 
est authority upon such points. 
" Faith is that inward sense and 
act, of which prayer is the ex- 
'pression ; as is evident, because . 
in the same manner as the freedom 
of grace, according to the gospel 
covenant, is often set forth by this, 
that he that believes, receives ; 
so it also oftentimes is by this, 
that he that asks, or prays, or 
calls upon God, receives. ' Ask 
and it shall be given you ; seek 
and ye shall find ; knock and it 
shall be opened unto you. For 
every one that asketh, receiveth ; 
and he that seeketh, findeth ; and 
to him that knocketh, it shall be 
opened. And all things whatso- 
ever ye shall ask in prayer, believ- 
ing, ye shall receive (Matt. vii. 
7, 8 ; Mark xi. 24). If ye abide 
in me and my words abide in you, 
ye shall ask what ye will, and it 
shall be done untc you' (John xv. 
7). Prayer is often plainly spoken 
of as the expression of faith. As 
it very certainly is in Romans x. 
11-14: 'For the Scripture saith, 
Whosoever believeth on him shall 
not be ashamed. For there is no 
difference between the Jew and 
the Greek : for the same Lord 
over all is rich unto all that call 
upon him; for whosoever shall 
call upon the name of the Lord 
shall be saved. How then shall 
they call on him in whom they 
have not believed.'' Christian pray- 



FAITH THE SOLE SAVING ACT. 



415 



by the glittering shafts of violated law. And there- 
fore he takes the " shield of faith." He places the 
oblation of the God-man, — not his own work and 
not his own suffering, but another's work and an- 
other's suffering, — between himself and the judicial 
vengeance of the Most High. And in so doing, he 
works no work of his own, and no dead work ; but 
he works the " work of God ; " he believes on Him 
whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation for 
his sins, and not for his only but for the sins of the 
whole world. 

This then is the great doctrine which our Lord 
taught the* Jews, when they asked Him what par- 
ticular thing or things they must do in order to 
eternal life. The apostle John, who recorded the 
answer of Christ in this instance, repeats the doc- 
trine again in his first Epistle : " Whatsoever we 
ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His com- 
mandment, and do those things that are pleasing 
in His sight. Aud this is His commandment, that 
we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus 
Christ" (1 John iii. 22, 23). The whole duty of 
sinful man is here summed up, and concentrated, in 
the duty to trust in another person than himself, 

er is called- the prayer of faith well be used for prayer also ; sucli 

(James v. 15). ' I will that men as coming to God or Christ, and 

everywhere lift up holy hands, looking to Him. 'In whom we 

without wrath and doubting (1 have boldness and access with 

Tim. ii. 8). Draw near in full confidence, by the faith of him* 

assurance of faith ' (Heb. x. 22). Eph. iii. 12)." Edwards : Ob- 

The same expressions that are servations concerning Faith, 
used, in Scripture, fur faith, may 



416 



FAITH THE SOLE SAVING ACT. 



and in another work than his own. The apostle, 
like his Lord before him, employs the singular num- 
ber : " This is His commandment," — as if there were 
no other commandment upon record. And this 
corresponds with the answer which Paul and Silas 
gave to the despairing jailor : " Believe on the Lord 
jesus Christ," — do this one single thing, — " and 
thou shalt be saved." And all of these teachings 
accord with that solemn declaration of our Lord : 
" He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting 
life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not 
see life ; but the wrath of God abideth on him." 
In the matter of salvation, where there is faith in 
Christ, there is everything; and where there is not 
faith in Christ, there is nothing. 

1. And it is with this thought that we would 
close this discourse, and enforce the doctrine of the 
text. "Do whatever else you may in the matter of 
religion, you have done nothing until you have be- 
lieved on the Lord Jesus Christ, whom God hath 
sent into the world to be the propitiation for sin. 
There are two reasons for this. In the first place, it 
is the appointment and declaration of God, that man, 
if saved at all, must be saved, by faith in the Person 
and Work of the Mediator. "Neither is there sal- 
vation in any other : for there is none other name 
under heaven given among men, whereby we must 
be saved" (Actsiv. 12). It of course rests entirely 
with the Most High God, to determine the mode and 
manner in which He will enter into negotiations 



FAITH THE SOLE SAVING ACT. 



417 



with His creatures, and especially with His rebel- 
lious creatures. He must make the terms, and the 
creature must come to them. Even, therefore, if we 
could not see the reasonableness and adaptation of 
the method, we should be obligated to accept it. 
The creature, and particularly the guilty creature, 
cannot dictate to his Sovereign and Judge respecting 
the terms and conditions by which he is to be re- 
ceived into favor, and secure eternal life. Men 
overlook this fact, when they presume as they 
do, to sit in judgment upon the method of re- 
demption by the blood of atonement and to quar- 
rel with it. 

In the first Punic war, Hannibal laid siege to Sa- 
guntum, a rich and strongly-fortified city on the 
eastern coast of Spain. It was defended with a 
desperate obstinacy by its inhabitants. But the 
discipline, the energy, and the persistence of the 
Carthaginian army, were too much for them ; and 
just as the city was about to fall, Alorcus, a Span- 
ish chieftain, and a mutual friend of both of the 
contending parties, undertook to mediate between 
them. He proposed to the Saguntines that they 
should surrender, allowing the Carthaginian general 
to make his own terms. And the argument he 
used was this : " Your city is captured, in any event. 
Further resistance will only bring down upon you 
the rage of an incensed soldiery, and the horrors of 
a sack. Therefore, surrender immediately, and take 
whatever Hannibal shall please to give. You cannot 



418 



FAITH THE SOLE SAVING ACT. 



lose anything by the procedure, and you may gain 
something, even though it be little." 1 Now, al- 
though there is no resemblance between the gov- 
ernment of the good and merciful God and the 
cruel purposes and conduct of a heathen warrior, 
and we shrink from bringing the two into any kind 
of juxtaposition, still, the advice of the wise Alor- 
cus to the Sagun tines is good advice for every sin- 
ful man, in reference to his relations to Eternal 
J ustice. We are all of us at the mercy of God. 
Should He make no terms at all ; had He never 
given His Son to die for our sins, and never sent 
His Spirit to exert a subduing influence upon our 
hard hearts, but had let guilt and justice take their 
inexorable course with us ; not a word could be ut- 
tered against the procedure by heaven, earth, or 
hell. No creature, anywhere can complain of jus- 
1 tice. That is an attribute that cannot even be at- 
tacked. But the All-Holy is also the All-Merciful. 
He has made certain terms, and has offered certain 
conditions of pardon, without asking leave of His 
creatures and without taking them into council, and 
were these terms as strict as Draco, instead of being 
as tender and pitiful as the tears and blood of Jesus, 
it would become us criminals to make no criticisms 
even in that extreme case, but accept them precisely 
as they were offered by the Sovereign and the Arbi- 
ter. We exhort you, therefore, to take these terms 



1 Livius : Historia, Lib. xxi. 12. 



FAITH THE SOLE SAYING ACT. 



419 



of salvation simply as they are given, asking no 
questions, and being thankful that there are any 
terms at all between the offended majesty of Heaven 
and the guilty criminals of earth. Believe on Him 
whom God hath sent, because it is the appoint- 
ment and declaration of God, that if guilty man is 
to be saved at all, he must be saved by faith in the 
Person and Work of the Mediator. The very dis- 
position to quarrel with this method implies arro- 
gance in dealing with the Most High. The least 
inclination to alter the conditions shows that the 
creature is attempting to criticise the Creator, and, 
what is yet more, that the criminal has no true per- 
ception of his crime, no sense of his exposed and 
helpless situation, and presumes to dictate the terms 
of his own pardon ! 

2. We might therefore leave the matter here, 
and there would be a sufficient reason for exercising 
the act of faith in Christ. But there is a second 
and additional reason which we will also briefly 
urge upon you. Not only is it the Divine ap- 
pointment, that man shall be saved, if saved at all, 
by the substituted work of another ; but there are 
needs, there are crying tvants, in the human con- 
science, that can be supplied by no other method. 
There is a perfect adaptation between the Re- 
demption that is in Christ Jesus, and the guilt of 
sinners. As we have seen, we could reasonably 
urge you to believe in Him w T hom God hath sent, 
simply because God has sent Him, and because 



420 



FAITH THE SOLE SAYING ACT. 



He has told you that He will save you through 
no other name and in no other way, and will save 
you in this name and in this way. But we now 
urge you to the act of faith in this substituted 
work of Christ, because it has an atoning virtue, 
and can pacify a perturbed and angry conscience ; 
can wash out the stains of guilt that are grained 
into it ; can extract the sting of sin which ulcerates 
and burns there. It is the idea of expiation and 
satisfaction that we now single out, and press upon 
your notice. Sin must be expiated, — expiated 
either by the blood of the criminal, or by the 
blood of his Substitute. You must either die for 
your own sin, or some one who is able and willing 
must die for you. This is founded and fixed in 
the nature of God, and the nature of man, and the 
nature of sin. There is an eternal and necessary 
connection between crime and penalty. The wages 
of sin is death. But, all this inexorable necessity 
has been completely provided for, by the sacrificial 
work of the Son of God. In the gospel, God satis- 
fies His own justice for the sinner, and now offers 
you the full benefit of the satisfaction, if you will 
humblyandpenitentlyaccept .it. " What compas- 
sion can equal the words of God the Father addressed 
to the sinner condemned to eternal punishment, and 
having no means of redeeming himself : ' Take my 
Only-Begotten Son, and make Him an offering for 
thyself ; ' or the words of the Son : 1 Take Me, and 
ransom thy soul \ 1 For this is what both say, when 



FAITH THE SOLE SAVING ACT. 



421 



tliey invite and draw man to faith in the gospel." 1 In 
urging you, therefore, to trust in Christ's vicarious 
sufferings for sin, instead of going down to hell and 
suffering for sin in your own person ; in entreating 
you to escape the stroke of justice upon yourself, 
by believing in Him who was smitten in your 
stead, who " was wounded for your transgressions 
and bruised for your iniquities;" in beseeching 
you to let the Eternal Son of God be your Substi- 
tute in this awful judicial transaction ; we are sum- 
moning you to no arbitrary and irrational act. 
The peace of God which it will introduce into 
your conscience, and the love of God which it will 
shed abroad through your soul, will be the most 
convincing of all proofs that the act of faith in 
the great Atonement does no violence to the ideas 
and principles of the human constitution. No act 
that contravenes those intuitions and convictions 
which are part and particle of man's moral nature 
could possibly produce peace and joy. It would 
be revolutionary and anarchical. The soul could 
not rest an instant. And yet it is the uniform 
testimony of all believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, 
that the act of simple confiding faith in His blood 
and righteousness is the most peaceful, the most 
joyful act they ever performed, — nay, that it was 
the first blessed experience they ever felt in this 
world of sin, this world of remorse, this world of 

1 Anselm : (Jnr Deus Homo ? II. 20. 

19 



422 



FAITH THE SOLE SAVING ACT. 



fears and forebodings concerning judgment and 
doom. 

Is the question, then, of the Jews, pressing upon 
your mind ? Do you ask, What one particular 
single thing shall I do, that I may be safe for time 
and eternity ? Hear the answer of the Son of God 
Himself : " This is the work of God, that ye believe 
on Him whom He hath sent." 



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M. B. RIDDLE, D.D., Dutch Reformed. 
Prof. WM. WELLS, D.D., Med.cdist. 
W. H. HORN BLOWER, D.D., Presbyt'n. 
Prof. GEORGE BLISS, Baptist. 
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